T-Mobile Seems Unsure of Position on Tethering Fees

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May 13, 2010

TechCrunch Posts about Tethering

TechCrunch reports that Android 2.2 (Froyo) will support USB and Wifi tethering, though it remains to be seen whether carriers will have an option to disable this feature. TechCrunch leaked some information about availability of tethering within Froyo, and dozens of other sites picked it up, not to mention countless tweets about it. It made some serious headlines, and has had a lot of feedback from users hoping to get a 2.2 upgrade to their Android device when they haven’t even had a 2.1 upgrade yet. All I can say to them is good luck.

What is T-Mobile’s Position, Though?

Shortly after getting my own Nexus One in February, our office Internet connection went down, I had the opportunity to try some of the third-party tethering apps in the Android Market, such as PDANet and EasyTether. Having successfully installed PDANet, plugging in my Nexus One via USB and getting the client running on my MacBook, and sharing my MacBook’s new Internet connection with my coworkers, I sent a quick tweet about my successful trial:

Three minutes later, T-Mobile sent a reply tweet:

Early Morning Tethering

Early on a Friday morning mid-March, I awoke to find our home WiFi on the blink. This time, I used EasyTether with my M17x running Windows 7 Ultimate, and sent another tweet about being able to get online:

Within 5 minutes, another reply from T-Mobile:

And, Now That Froyo is Announced …?

After reading the TechCrunch article, and several others about Sprint wanting to charge extra for the EVO “experience” I decided to ping T-Mobile again about tethering, but this time asking whether they’ll charge us extra for it:

This time, T-Mobile took almost two hours to reply:

What’s the Verdict?

I guess we’ll have to wait for the Froyo announcement from Google, and then a follow-up announcement from T-Mobile, as to whether they’ll let the Nexus One have an untouched 2.2 build, or whether T-Mobile will tweak the software to disable USB/WiFi tethering and/or charge its users more per month. It’s already been announced that T-Mobile will slow down our cell network bandwidth once we’ve transferred 5GB/month, but so far they’ve been very cool about allowing tethering on their network – via third-party apps that users are unlikely to run for extended periods of time.

AT&T has allowed tethering on certain devices if you pay a premium monthly data plan price ($60/month), Verizon charges extra for USB tethering, and WiFi tethering on their Palm Pre Plus devices, and Sprint has announced they will charge extra for the EVO’s data plan which, coincidentally, allows tethering – is that Sprint’s way of charging for WiFi tethering?

If I were King for a day

If I were T-Mobile, I’d leave tethering alone on Froyo, let the users have access to it, continue to slow our bandwidth after 5GB, and use that as a serious advantage against the other 3 major carriers. It would bring in lots of additional customers, especially road warriors, and would most definitely increase their brand popularity.

Rumor has it of course that the Nexus One will get the first roll-out of Froyo, so it remains to be seen how T-Mobile will handle themselves with this new OS build. Personally, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the Nexus One when Froyo is announced.