AT&T’s Tethering Costs Infinity Per Megabyte

I was recently sent this article:

It basically talks about how text messaging fees have you paying $1,310 per megabyte of data. Which is true – texting fees were always ridiculous and somehow wireless carriers were able to capitalize on that.

Tethering is a little different. When you use tethering (a feature that was built into the iphone in 3.0 over a year ago: your phone acts as an internet connection relay/access point for your laptop. You’re using your data plan on your laptop instead of your phone.

Naturally a person would use more data on their laptop than on their phone as it’s more convenient to watch online videos, write emails, etc. on a laptop. In the past a carrier would charge extra for tethering since data plans were unlimited but more data usage is a higher load on a network that a carrier has to maintain and pay for. However, with data caps on all of AT&T’s plans, using more data than your plan covers already results in heavy fees ($10 for every 1GB overage in the 2GB plan).

So charging an extra $20 a month just to be able to tether is just AT&T saying “we own your asses.”

An excerpt from an interview with Mark Collins, senior VP of data and voice products at AT&T:

GigaOM: What about the $20 tethering fee? It looks like a convenience charge.

Collins: That capability is enabling something you can’t do today. You can use one device and get multiple connections so it’s more useful to you. You’re going to use more data so the price is based on the value that will be delivered.

Enabling something AT&T disabled last year. Using data which already increases in cost depending on how much you use.

Simple analogy: Imagine Apple introduced a feature in their older iPhones (original, 3g) that allowed them to record videos using the camera and email them to your friends. AT&T disabled that feature on the account that you will probably end up using more data with it since you will be emailing videos. However, they finally decided they are going to charge $20 per month for “enabling” it and because “you’re going to use more data.”

5 thoughts on “AT&T’s Tethering Costs Infinity Per Megabyte

  1. i finally get what you were talking about before. all i got to say is that apple is also partly liable here… for enabling the ability to disable the tethering feature. and soon ATT and others will realize that letting people tether for free might actually get them more money – i’m sure one of the carriers will think like that and if consumers vote with their wallet on this (though i doubt they will, just like they dont’ when it comes to texting) every carrier will follow suit. Then again, anyone else introduce the data caps yet besides ATT? if no one did, then i find it really mind boggling that people pay asinine money for the iphone bonanza.

    1. many carrier have data caps, even on the unlimited plans (they’re just not explicit in that case)

      I’m not really sure I understand what you mean by Apple is partly to blame. AT&T can ask Apple to disable anything on the iPhone, and things ARE disabled/prohibited due to AT&T – like VoIP for example.

  2. i think there are a bunch of phones on american carriers that don’t have that tether feature disabled (Pre?). finally, i’m sure there are unlocked phones you could get with such a feature if u just must tether (don’t really get why u’d want to tether with the cap in place). att sells data plans for laptop so it makes sense for them not to allow free tethering and that’s what it comes down to regardless of what stupid excuse ATT ceo may offer you

  3. texting is much more obnoxious regardless of how “not new/old” that issue might be IMO. esp. considering that I get spam texting on my phone.

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