MyWi and TetherMe Users: at&t is Going After You

Many owners of jailbroken iPhones have been using apps such as MyWi and TetherMe to tether devices to their phone, without having to pay for the specific, $20 a month tethering plan required by at&t. So far, the wireless provider did not seem to mind much, and despite a couple of extreme cases in which at&t suspended the user’s account, the vast majority of MyWi and TetherMe users have been using the feature on a daily basis without any hiccups. As of yesterday, at&t’s tone seems to have changed drastically, as several iPhone owners who use the tethering feature without paying for it were greeted this morning by a text message and an email from at&t to remind them that tethering is not a free feature, and requires a specific subscription. The ‘first strike’ comes as a simple text message, inviting the MyWi/TetherMe users to subscribe to a tethering plan:
AT&T Free Msg: Did you know tethering your Smartphone to a computer requires a tethering plan? Pls call 888-860-6789 for details or visit
Users also receive an email, to give them more details about at&t’s tethering plans (sample at the end of this article). While the email does not explicitly require the user to sign up for a dedicated tethering plan, users who fail to either stop using the phone’s tethering capabilities, or do not sign up for a new data plan, eventually receive a ‘second strike’, to tell them that they would be automatically enrolled into the DataPro 4GB plan, after a specific date. The plan costs $45 a month, and gives users a total of 4GB per month, as it combines both iPhone data plan for $25, as well as the tethering feature, an additional $20. While at this stage, the method used by at&t to target the MyWi and TetherMe users is unknown, it would appear that at&t is going after iPhone owners who use large amounts of data – most likely users who are still using the now defunct unlimited data plan. Sample email from at&t:
Dear [XYZ], We’ve noticed your service plan may need updating. Many AT&T customers use their smartphones as a broadband connection for other devices, like laptops, netbooks or other smartphones– a practice commonly known as tethering. Tethering can be an efficient way for our customers to enjoy the benefits of AT&T’s mobile broadband network and use more than one device to stay in touch with important people and information. To take advantage of this feature, we require that in addition to a data plan, you also have a tethering plan. Our records show that you use this capability, but are not subscribed to our tethering plan. If you would like to continue tethering, please log into your account online at Cell Phones and Cell Phone Plans – Wireless from AT&T, or call us at 1-888-860-6789 Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. CST or Saturday, 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. CST, by March 27, 2011 to sign up for DataPro 4GB for Smartphone Tethering. Here are details on the plan: DataPro 4GB for Smartphone Tethering
  • $45 per month (this gives you 4GB in total, combining both your smartphone data plan for $25 and the tethering feature, $20)
  • $10 per each additional GB thereafter, added automatically as needed
  • Mobile Hotspot capabilities are included for compatible Smartphones
If we don’t hear from you, we’ll plan to automatically enroll you into DataPro 4GB after [DATE]. The new plan – whether you sign up on your own or we automatically enroll you – will replace your current smartphone data plan, including if you are on an unlimited data plan. If you discontinue tethering, no changes to your current plan will be required. It’s easy to track your usage throughout the month so there are no bill surprises. For example, we send you free text messages when you reach 65, 90, and 100 percent of your plan’s threshold. If you would like to monitor your account more closely, go to learn about other ways to track your data usage. As a reminder, our smartphone data plans also include unlimited usage of Wi-Fi at no additional charge. AT&T smartphone customers can use Wi-Fi at home or on-the-go at any one of our more than 23,000 U.S. hotspots already included in your data plan. Thank you for bringing your account up to date. We appreciate the opportunity to continue to serve your mobile broadband needs. Sincerely, AT&T