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Palm Pre Does Not Get US Tethering Either 232

Posted by kdawson
from the cutting-the-cord dept.
fermion writes "The Register is reporting that Palm has sent a note to the Pre Dev Wiki asking it to stop discussing tethering. Palm is worried that its US carrier partner, Sprint, is none too eager to have users tether the game-changing tetherable smart phone. While the communication was informal, not legal, the development forum is evidently eager to avoid any possibility of lawsuits, so has rapidly agreed. Perhaps, like the iPhone, the Pre is going have a vigorous underground. What is interesting is that the Pre, like the iPhone (allegedly), can be tethered outside of the US; but even those customers are being denied apparently lawful information to satisfy the US exclusive agents."
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Palm Pre Does Not Get US Tethering Either

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  • Ok...and? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by XPeter (1429763) * on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @04:16PM (#28352829) Homepage

    Was anyone really expecting the greedy phone companies to give us tethering?

    You have a better chance of TPB and Time Warner merging into one company.

    • So, you're saying there's a chance.
    • by oahazmatt (868057)

      You have a better chance of TPB and Time Warner merging into one company.

      Yeah, but if that were to happen you wouldn't be able to pirate only what you wanted, so I don't think it would work as well.

    • Was anyone really expecting the greedy phone companies to give us tethering?

      No, but it does mean that the iPhone doesn't have exclusivity on this lacking feature.

    • Re:Ok...and? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @04:40PM (#28353235)
      My G1 tethers just fine. 3G in Dallas is phenomenal. Then again I intentionally chose a phone that wouldn't limit my choices.
    • by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @05:11PM (#28353729)

      Was anyone really expecting the greedy phone companies to give us tethering?

      Was anyone really expecting unlimited mobile internet to include tethering?

      Does anyone really think that unlimited data for your phone and unlimited data for your laptop are really the same (or so similar) as products?

      Did people with these expectations bother to ask the salespeople to clarify or, failing that, to read their service agreement?

      Do people on slashdot always have to ask annoyingly rhetorical questions instead of simply stating what they think in declarative sentences?

      Did I just answer my own question?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by GeekWade (623925)

        Was anyone really expecting the greedy phone companies to give us tethering?

        No, but when I say to the sales guys "I will pay more if I can tether" I expect this little thing called capitalism to rear its little head and for somebody to take my money in exchange for the service that I am (wait for it....) willing to pay for! No, the incredible per kilobit fees that they threaten with in the standard "unlimited" plans do not count. Let me and the others like me pay for "unlimited+" and go upgrade your network to handle the load. When the next big thing comes along I will probably p

      • by XanC (644172)

        I tether on Sprint with my Samsung m610. Sprint does not support this, but they do sell an unlimited data plan, to which I subscribe. Yes, "unlimited". The terms of service address do address tethering, along the lines of: "The phone cannot be used to tether to a laptop." If it said "may not", you may have a point, but as it is, it's simply a false statement in the contract, not a prohibition.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tuomoks (246421)

          This is funny, even if it would say "can not" would be a false statement because it definitely "can" be used. It they would say something as "is not allowed to create a tethering connection" or so, that might be different (INAL). Now, who would buy it then - tethering means connecting a device, so any other device as bluetooth earphones, etc would be prohibited by contract. IMHO something should be done to these contracts where unlimited is not unlimited, where connection means a connection as long as it ma

    • Re:Ok...and? (Score:5, Informative)

      by ahoehn (301327) <andrew@hoe.DEBIANhn minus distro> on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @06:06PM (#28354405) Homepage

      Plus, the summary does a pretty awful job of getting to the real story. I've been following the development thread and chat since the rooting of the Pre was first announced. The motivation for the development forum's choice to stop talking about tethering wasn't eagerness to avoid lawsuits, it was appreciation for the way that Palm engineers have been interacting with the "underground" community.

      Palm engineers have been involved in the unofficial dev forum threads and chat, dropping hints, giving the "hackers" knowledge that might have otherwise taken weeks or months for them to discover unaided.

      The big stories here are:
      1) Palm DIDN'T send a cease and desist. They nicely said, "Hey, if you want us to keep helping you out here, stop talking about tethering."

      2) The Pre Dev community is doing some amazing things, thanks to the fact that the Pre is essentially a little Linux box with a nifty GUI.

      3) It doesn't really matter that the affected wiki and forum aren't discussing tethering, since solutions have already been released elsewhere.

      Want to get involved yourself? Head over to the most active dev thread at Precentral.net [precentral.net], contribute to the Wiki [wikidot.com], or join the chat at #webos-internals on FreeNode (irc.freenode.net).

    • I have been tethering for many years with my Sony Ericsson P910 & P990 phones on T-Mobile.

      But I guess technically T-Mobile is an EU company.

  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @04:19PM (#28352877) Homepage
    So many times people discuss tethering without actually describing what it means.

    For those that don't know, tethering is when you tie your phone to your computer and hit it around the computer several times, until the phone brakes your computer screen.

    Tethering is legal in all states, but some phone companies seem to object to it, so they contractually prevent you from doing this.

    Now that I have an unlimited data plan, if I could just figure out a way to use my telephone as a modem for my computer, because hey, it's my property and fair use laws means I have the legal right to view it on any sized screen I want.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TejWC (758299)

      Reasons why cell phone companies hate tethering:
      1. Youtube. When AT&T did calculations for the iPhone, they initially didn't take youtube into account and once it was available to iPhone customers, their 3 year bandwidth projection was hit in just 3 weeks (I'll look up the citation later, but you'll have to take my word on it). Now that youtube is available to many mobile devices, I would assume that they are worried that other apps (like WoW, Skype, BitTorrent) could suck up a lot of bandwidth
      2. Tether

      • by gurps_npc (621217) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @04:45PM (#28353317) Homepage
        The problem is that they are trying to charge people extra for something that they are legally required to let you do. It's kind of like saying "We are charging people extra for cable if you want to hook up your own personal DVR up to.

        NO. If I bought unlimited access, they I get unlimited access and I have the right to shift content I download to anywhere I want. If you don't really want to give out unlimited access, then don't lie and claim it is unlimited access. It is called Fraud when you advertise something and don't supply it.

        • by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @05:05PM (#28353643)

          If I bought unlimited access, they I get unlimited access and I have the right to shift content I download to anywhere I want.

          If you bought unlimited access, that would be true. The terms and conditions on my wireless service (Sprint w/ unlimited data but not the Pre) simply do not state this. The terms are quite clear that I have unlimited bandwidth for use on my phone but that I may not use that bandwidth from any other device (without paying for the phone-as-modem plan). No sales person ever represented otherwise to me and I would like to see some citation to a claim to the contrary which would be the linchpin of any claim of fraud.

          Your argument that you have the right to shift content to wherever you like makes no sense -- you have a written agreement with the carrier that clearly delineates the rights and responsibilities of both parties. The fact that you don't like the term or that you believe you have the "right" to ignore those terms is entirely meaningless. In fact, if you want to talk about fraud, it's breach of contrast to willfully violate the terms of your agreement with the wireless carrier.

          As a side matter, why shouldn't the carriers (provided they advertise such a service honestly) be able to sell an "unlimited internet for your mobile device" plan? If the terms are upfront and the salefolk don't lie about it, it's up to consumers to decide if such a plan meets their needs.

          • by Jurily (900488) <[jurily] [at] [gmail.com]> on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @05:37PM (#28354061)

            Your argument that you have the right to shift content to wherever you like makes no sense -- you have a written agreement with the carrier that clearly delineates the rights and responsibilities of both parties. The fact that you don't like the term or that you believe you have the "right" to ignore those terms is entirely meaningless. In fact, if you want to talk about fraud, it's breach of contrast to willfully violate the terms of your agreement with the wireless carrier.

            Are you sure there is a contract powerful enough to tell me I can't transfer my data from my mobile device to my computer, based on how that data got on my device?

            Either this is bullshit, or I should be lucky I don't live anywhere near there.

          • by shentino (1139071)

            Of course it's a breach of contrast.

            The terms are hardly black and white.

          • by tmortn (630092) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @09:59PM (#28356697) Homepage
            First off let me state that tethering on a contract that state 'no tethering' is clearly a violation of the terms of said contract.

            However, that being said, just because it is in a contract you sign does not make it 'right'. The idea that the service provider has a say over what happens to content I transfer via the service once it reaches my device is absurd. I seriously doubt you could claim that someone downloading a picture/video/file to their phone and then transferring it to their computer constitutes something that is illegal given said content has no restrictions (say project Gutenburg book files). And yet that is what a 'no tethering' clause claims on at least one method of such a transfer.

            There is zero difference to the service provider if a file makes it to a computer via a network request transfered by the phone or via the phone downloading the file and then transferring the file via bluetooth or usb. The phone is in both cases providing the network access to the file in question. On what grounds (other than greed) should they have any say regarding if the secondary transfer happens as the information reaches the device or shortly there after via another means of file transfer?

            Now they may have grounds to be concerned if I exceed my bandwidth allotment. The problem with that is dealing with the word 'unlimited'. When the plan states unlimited data and then buries a bandwidth cap clause in the legalese I consider that an open case as to whether or not it is 'false advertising'.

            The definition of 'unlimited' should always be clearly defined and not buried in the terms of service. I would argue that to use the word unlimited the provider must define a quality of service rate accessible for the duration of the contract. I would suggest the average transfer rate the device is capable of across the providers network times the length of the contract. Anything less should not legally be allowed to advertise as an 'unlimited' data plan.

            For example having a monthly 1gb bandwidth cap on an 'unlimited' plan attached to a device capable of downloading multiple gb's of data on any given day (before even considering tethering) is an unacceptable stretch of the term 'unlimited'. And even if they removed the word unlimited and explicitly advertised a monthly 1gb data plan they would still have no dog in the 'tethering' fight. Only the right to gig me if I exceeded 1gb of bandwidth in the alloted period of my service contract.

            Obviously for any of this to take effect challenges will have to be brought in court based on enforcement of these contract terms. Oddly enough if you read up on people that do run afoul of the 'no tethering' clause you find they are generally penalized on bandwidth grounds... not the tethering. Consequences are in my experience always driven by dealing with the bandwidth usage... ie paying for overage and/or having your account upgraded to allow for the increased usage. The reason is that the bandwidth overages are far far far easier for the service provider to pursue in court. Here is the common sense reason why. The terms of service to often explicitly state what constitutes excess bandwidth usage. They do not clearly show why 1gb of 'tethered' data is any different from 1gb of "untethered" data... because there is none.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Spatial (1235392)

        Tethering your computer to your phone means that your cellphone could potentially be part of a botnet from your pwned windows computer.

        Somehow I don't think they give a shit about that one. Every other ISP sure doesn't.

      • by julesh (229690)

        Reasons why cell phone companies hate tethering:
        1. Youtube. When AT&T did calculations for the iPhone, they initially didn't take youtube into account and once it was available to iPhone customers, their 3 year bandwidth projection was hit in just 3 weeks (I'll look up the citation later, but you'll have to take my word on it). Now that youtube is available to many mobile devices, I would assume that they are worried that other apps (like WoW, Skype, BitTorrent) could suck up a lot of bandwidth

        Meanwhile

    • I did not know what tethering was.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tethering [wikipedia.org]

  • Dumb (Score:5, Informative)

    by m3rck (1110319) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @04:21PM (#28352901)

    Sprint allows the these phones to tether:

    Blackberry 8703e, Blackberry 8130, Blackberry 8330, Blackberry 8830, 1HTC Touch, 1HTC Mogul (6800), 1HTC Apache (6700), LG Fusic LX-500, LG Muziq, Motorola KRZR, Motorola RAZR V3c, Motorola, RAZR2, Motorola Q, Motorola Q9c, Palm Centro, Palm 700w, Palm 755p, Samsung A900, Samsung A900M. Samsung A920, Samsung ACE, Samsung i830, Samsung SPH-m520,Sanyo SCP-8400. Sanyo Katana, Sanyo Katana 2, Sanyo M

    The Pre is nothing special, and Sprint has no idea what it is doning.

    • Re:Dumb (Score:5, Interesting)

      by guruevi (827432) <evi.smokingcube@be> on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @04:42PM (#28353269) Homepage

      None of those phones are very popular. The Blackberries are either too expensive or only for business people (who don't mind paying a lot) and are too large for most people. The Motorola's are a pain in the butt so nobody uses them, the Samsungs, Sanyo's and LG's have been reflashed with provider-specific firmware which cripples usage of the phone and makes tethering all but impossible since the Bluetooth connection is very, very slow (My Samsung did 10s for 1MB).

      The Palm Pre and the iPhone is (going to be) very popular, have fast Bluetooth and raw processing power and have the ability for user-level programs and firmware which the provider doesn't control. The iPhone can already get up to 100kbps on the average over EDGE and has promised to deliver us HDSPA (Mbit range) something the providers in the US simply aren't and really don't want to get prepared for.

      • by PRMan (959735)
        The Palm Treo 700w is VERY popular. I have one and almost everyone I know on Sprint or Verizon has one. Palm just improved tethering on this old phone in their latest software update.
      • Popular? (Score:3, Informative)

        by meehawl (73285)
        None of those phones are very popular.

        I will note in passing that each HTC model seems to sell between 1-2m each. Not a huge amount, but HTC does have a lot of different units available, and replaces them around eveyr 12-18 months or so. According to Gartner's most recent report, Apple's share of the smartphone market was ~11%, while HTC's was ~6%.

        I will say that I was without wired Internet for a week while AT&T tried and failed miserably to install U-Verse. Apparently the 40-year-old rat-chewed
      • by bughunter (10093)

        The Motorola's are a pain in the butt so nobody uses them

        I use one. And my wife just bought a Sprint-branded Blackberry 8830. Two of your premises are therefore false. And since your conclusion requires your premises form a logical AND condition, your conclusion is also logically false.

    • However, Sprint only has a 6month exclusive on the PRE, if I remember correctly. I don't believe Verizon is as friendly with Tethering...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @04:21PM (#28352905)

    Sprint removed it from their website [engadget.com] back in February.

    Did you really think that an industry that charges 15 cents for 50 bytes of text (IM) that could easily be stuffed into the header overhead of routine handset-to-tower comms would give you tethering for free? really?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Sprint removed it from their website [engadget.com] back in February.

      Did you really think that an industry that charges 15 cents for 50 bytes of text (IM) that could easily be stuffed into the header overhead of routine handset-to-tower comms...

      Not "could be stuffed into the header overhead", *is*. SMS messages are carried using spare capacity on the control channel (which is used to tell your phone an incoming call's coming in otherwise, and for telling it if it should change to another channel or cell site... in the other direction, the phone uses it to initiate outgoing calls.) Now, they do have it popular enough now that the control channel fills up, and they have to install a second control channel...so the cost isn't really 0 in thos

  • Maybe I missed most of the argument here, but my Blackberry storm, from Verizon, can tether if I pay $15 per month. I did that for a while until I could convince my phone company to provide DSL to my area. Why are other phone companies against tethering, or am I completely misunderstanding something?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by spire3661 (1038968)

      People expect that when they buy an unlimited mobile internet plan that it should automatically be able to tether too. THe straight up fact is when you tether your mobile you WILL consume more bandwidth, period. The companies know this and charge accordingly. People seem to forget realities like this, just like the morons who expected a discount on the new Iphone a year into their contract. Iphones arent jsut given to ATT for free, they have a fixed cost, which is subsidized by continued cell service paymen

      • by Belial6 (794905)
        Seriously, it is stupid for people to think that their "unlimited" plan is "unlimited". Who do they think they are?!?!?!?
        • by dave562 (969951)
          It's an issue of semantics. The providers thought that they were offering unlimited data plans to use with the built in web browsing capabilities of the phone. Not unlimited data plans for phones that are connected to computers and used like modems. Soon enough there will be enough of an uproar over the ambiguity and the lawyers will get together and come up with some new terms that more clearly define things in favor of the providers.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        So should they still call their plan unlimited if it truly isn't unlimited? I tether my laptop to my G1 wherever I go, granted I only use it for routine browsing and SSH but my plan with T-Mobile includes unlimited data and I've never had a problem with them limiting me. Yes I know that no plan can truly be "unlimited" so why not simply cap a traditional broadband plan at 100GB per month or a mobile plan at 5GB? 95% of users wouldn't come close to those numbers and the companies could simply slow people
      • People expect that when they buy an unlimited mobile internet plan that it should automatically be able to tether too.

        And I expect a pony for christmas, still not going to happen. Expectations mean exactly zero in contract law where there is a written agreement. In the case of the wireless carriers, the service agreement is quite clear that the unlimited mobile internet plan can only be used on the mobile device.

        Now, if the literature or the salespeople lied about that when asked (you know, when you have an expectation it's a good idea to ask whether everyone else has it too, otherwise the contradiction in unspoken expecta

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by XanC (644172)

          quite clear that the unlimited mobile internet plan can only be used on the mobile device

          Can you explain exactly what it means to "use" bandwidth? Because the argument can certainly be made that only the phone is using it. It's the only thing talking with the carrier, right?

      • I would love to find an unlimited internet plan with a mobile company that doesn't define Unlimited as being 5GB in the fine print.
      • The straight up fact is when you tether your mobile you WILL consume more bandwidth, period. The companies know this and charge accordingly.

        Seems to be mostly North American companies. I was quite surprised when I found out that my cheap data plan was for "phone browsing" only. It's not how it works across the pond - there, you usually just pay for your traffic, and that's all there is to it.

    • They want a captive audience. Advertisers love a captive audience. Shareholders love a captive audience. Its us poor slobs in the audience who object with our irrational desire for freedom.

    • There are several Sprint phones that are able to have tethering too. I really don't understand phone companies lately.
    • Why are other phone companies against tethering, or am I completely misunderstanding something?

      Simply: they want you to pay for service, but they don't want you to really use it very much. They want to charge you a hefty fee for data access, and justify the price by saying it's "unlimited", but they really don't want you to use the service very much, because lots of people using it means they have to spend money to expand their infrastructure. If you can tether it to your computer, you'll probably use more bandwidth. Obviously they'd much prefer that you paid for their most expensive data plan and then never used it at all.

      • This is exactly right. I wish some phone company would start simply charging for all services based on what those services actually cost to provide. Text messages would be (nearly) free. Data transfer would be charged a basic rate, regardless of the type of data and whether or not is was tethered.

        There would be no need to choose a "plan." Why should a customer have to make a GUESS as to how much data transfer they will use in a month? Currently, if a person guesses too low or too high, they get overcharged

  • Game-changing... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @04:23PM (#28352951)

    Palm is worried that its US carrier partner, Sprint, is none too eager to have users tether the game-changing tetherable smart phone.

    "This phone is a game-changer. But don't talk about changing the game. The guy who owns the field will kick us all out if we do anything actually innovative. We're the players, you're the audience. We want our money from your tickets, and neither we, nor the guy who owns the field, cares if you actually see a good game. As long as the stadium's sold out, we really don't care if we forfeit the game before the coin toss."

  • ...the US is so far behind the rest of the tech world when it comes to wireless technology, they cannot offer a tethering service because they don't have the infrastructure to do it. It has affected all carriers. If it was only poor planning on the part of one company, that would be understandable. Even if it was poor planning on the part of many companies, one at least could offer this great feature (at a realisitc price) and make a killing. But as it stands...no one can do it at anything close to a pr
    • by ckaminski (82854)
      The Bush Administration and their pro-merger stance of the past 10 years has destroyed any innovation in the US telecommunications market. The TrustBusters need to come back out of cold-storage.

      Verizon should never have been allowed to become the behemoth that they are. They're almost (if not) bigger than AT&T for crying out loud.
  • in the summary?

    All these smartphones can tether. It's the carriers that prevent it, not the hardware.

  • Well maybe. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @04:26PM (#28353015) Homepage Journal

    Right now the Pre is US only so no right now you can not tether it if you are on a none US carrier since none of them carry it.
    Tethering in the US seems to scar the daylights out of US carriers. Probably because the really want to sell you that data card with an extra line.
    I don't know of any US provider that offers tethering. You could probably pull it off with an unlocked GSM phone on AT&T or maybe TMobile but I don't know if you can get a 3g Tmobile phone unlocked.

    • by Homburg (213427)

      I don't know if you can get a 3g Tmobile phone unlocked.

      That's the advantage of GSM - you don't need to get a "TMobile phone"; just get any old unlocked GSM phone, and put a TMobile SIM in it.

      I have an unlocked GSM phone (which I bought in the UK, where it's pretty common for phones to be unlocked, even when they come free with a contract to a particular carrier), which I use with an AT&T SIM, and I can indeed tether it, although to actually do so would be a violation of my contract with AT&T - and

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ivan256 (17499)

        I never understood locking phones.

        You get a subsidized phone in exchange for signing a binding contract for service. The company is getting the money for that service contract regardless of what you do with the phone, so why lock it?

        • I never understood locking phones.

          You get a subsidized phone in exchange for signing a binding contract for service. The company is getting the money for that service contract regardless of what you do with the phone, so why lock it?

          So they can force you to buy their bundled apps and services.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by profplump (309017)

          The only reason I can see is to reduce liquidity in the secondary phone market, so they can sell more new phones. Even if they don't make a lot of money on the phone directly, new phone sales allow them to get people into new long-term contracts, which are very profitable and help reduce turnover.

          I just wish I wasn't required to enter a long-term contract even when I *do* provide my own phone. I know /. is full of apologists who rail about recovering the cost of hardware subsidies, but I have yet to encount

        • by dave562 (969951)
          To keep you from taking your phone to another provider before your contract expires. We buy locked Blackberry's from AT&T where I work. After the contracts are expired, we call up AT&T and get the unlock code from them. Sometimes we have to call a few times before we get connected to a customer service rep who is helpful, but it is possible to get the unlock codes from AT&T.
      • by LWATCDR (28044)

        T-Mobile uses UMTS for it's 3g network AT&T uses HSDPA and I think they are upgrading to yet a faster standard.
        Plus you have the issues with frequencies. Since TMobile is the smallest of the big three finding unlocked phones that support it's flavor of 3G GSM is a little more difficult I hear.
         

    • by b0bby (201198)

      I don't know of any US provider that offers tethering. You could probably pull it off with an unlocked GSM phone on AT&T or maybe TMobile but I don't know if you can get a 3g Tmobile phone unlocked.

      They all offer tethering, they just charge extra for it. ATT charges $35/mo for their PDA Personal data plan, or $65 if you want to add tethering. What they don't offer is a cheap unlimited plan which allows tethering.

      • by Macrat (638047)
        t-mobile doesn't charge extra for tethering... just the basic $25 "unlimited" data service for your voice account.
  • by joe_n_bloe (244407) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @04:28PM (#28353065) Homepage

    I got a Centro a little while back and *Verizon* is A-OK with tethering. A short while before that I got a dongle but I hardly ever use it now, because Bluetooth tethering is so convenient.

    Verizon doesn't support its tethering software on Mac OS X, but, no worries, you can set Bluetooth dialing up yourself.

    BTW The Mac OS X EVDO script is terrible and broken. There's a MUCH better one floating around (I forget exactly which but I think it's the "PCS Intel EV-DO Modem Script"). Also, OS X's pppd likes to hang the computer occasionally (requiring a power button reboot), and Bluetooth dialing in general is flaky. But that's not Verizon's fault!

    Tethering really is a killer smartphone app. Too bad providers are so self-centered, unimaginative, and stuck in the past that they can't let owners use it.

    So I'll keep using my Centro with all its warts and random reboots, until, however many years from now, Verizon offers a better option.

    • by ckaminski (82854)
      I've used two Treos (700 and 650) and a blackberry for tethering on Verizon. Instead of paying for the 25$ plan, I had to pay for the $45 plan. No big deal.

      I have a Pre, trying it out, and let me tell you, Sprint service is worse than Verizon's in my neighborhoods. I like my Pre, but mine is going back - I'm going to wait until it's available on Verizon. I wonder, has anyone tried to get a Pre working on Verizon's network yet?
      • by ivan256 (17499)

        Sprint allowed tethering over Bluetooth with the Treo (not at first, but patched in later on the 650). I don't know why they would suddenly change their mind with the Pre. Maybe because of the 802.11?

    • Apropos of anything else, that sounds horrid. I just pair my Nokia N95 to my Mac, create a modem connection with a phone number of *99#, and I get 3G tethering over BT via the native connectivity options.
    • My brother worked for TMobile before it was TMobile. I think he was bluetooth tethering his nokia phone (not a smartphone, just a basic nokia) in something like 2001 or 2002. It was awesome. He got to test new equipment, didn't have to pay the bill. Its so sad to see that still, all these years later, things they have been doing around the world are still not being implemented in the US.
  • Palm has sent a note to the Pre Dev Wiki asking it to stop discussing tethering.

    Can Slashdot be far behind?

  • So do the cel companies have a legitimate concern about their networks being overloaded by people running torrents over tethered devices, or is it just a 'we are sitting on our collective arses figuring out how much we can get away with charging for it' thing?

    My feeling is that cel carriers in the US are discreetly colluding to keep tethering as an expensive, premium service.

    I would like to see a carrier break ranks and include it as a standard unlimited data plan feature. That would force all the other c

  • by PhantomHarlock (189617) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @04:35PM (#28353171)

    This is especially irritating because I was just starting to look around for an iPhone alternative that would allow tethering, background apps and no restrictive app store policies, etc. etc. all the reasons why the iPhone is essentially a nerfed technology demonstrator.

    Here is a great case of the technology being far ahead of the networks that support it. I think some of the major device providers should get together and form a network that is designed from the ground up to support data first and voice second.

    • I think some of the major device providers should get together and form a network that is designed from the ground up to support data first and voice second.

      I think people should build a network designed from the ground up to support data storage and forwarding first and... well, voice is a kind of data.

      Maybe if different networks arise, they could interconnect and come to traffic swap agreements.

      Someone for the love of spaghetti, please, embed telephony into the internet and sell us portable internet devices which does web browsing, email, IRC, instant messaging, games, voice chat (i.e. telephony), data transfer, the pocket calculator app, alarm clocks, a frig

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @04:35PM (#28353181)

    Here's a simple solution I offer to all carriers free of charge.

    Write a custom tethering app for each phone, that starts a recording of the volume of data sent via tethering - give me a low price or free option for some smallish amount of data to be used via tethering, with some increasing tier thereafter.

    This would satisfy 90% of people that just want to occasionally tether a laptop at a sucky hotel or airport.

    People who want to use it as a primary ISP would of course be forced to pay more, and that is fine.

    Could people work around it easily? Why yes they could, just as they can jailbreak these phones and get tethering for free. Isn't some money better than no money?

    Would it record phone data as part of the tethering data? Yes it would but if you're tethering then you're mostly using a laptop, right?

    Furthermore unreasonable tethering prices or locking down tethering will force a LOT more people to jailbreak phones (OK, not force, but greatly encourage). Along with that come all the other network hogging behaviors in addition to tethering you never get to charge for again.

    Give us 90% of us a reasonable option for occasional tethering at low cost and everyone will be happy.

    • I think that for a lot of people, they only require tethering very infrequently, such as where WiFi is unavailable of too expensive, and they need net access for their laptop. I would happily pay £5 for 24 hours, since I would likely only use it once a month at most. In the UK, O2 are offering £15 a month for iPhone tethering, but that's too much for the amount of use I would get out of it.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Blackjack Joe (997819)

        I agree with the idea of a 24-hour or 48-hour tethering access plan. Most of the time I'm somewhere that there is free or cheap internet access for my laptop, but occasionally I've been somewhere where I've used tethering on my old Sony-Ericsson phone to get online for some quick browsing, such as making an on-line hotel reservation. I really don't need a monthly plan for tethering, as I've had the need maybe 4 to 5 times a year on the average. And I've not had tethering at all for the 11 months I've had

  • What is to stop someone from installing proxy or NAT software onto their (perhaps jailbroken) smartphone? Can cell providers really prevent this?

    • Possibly. According to Engadget, the Pre will have mandatory firmware upgrades. You can defer it for up to a week, and then you get a 10-minute notice that it's going to start downloading whether you like it or not. There may be a way of disabling such proxy software in the firmware.

      • by iluvcapra (782887)

        Yeeks, that's worse than the iPhone, and much worse than an Android. At least with an iPhone you can choose to stop upgrading.

        I remember back to the day when it was downright complicated and difficult to get a Treo firmware upgrade. How times do change...

    • by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @06:15PM (#28354501)

      Sure. Or they can add a routine to their firmware that looks for this type of connection and, when detected, cripple the phone. I grabbed a 3G iphone the week they were jailbroke and ran one of the socks proxy programs that was available. The iphone would not charge when data was being passed through the socks proxy. I could have the data connection active and do all the streaming audio I wanted on the phone through Pandora (hours and hours and hours) and it charged fine. But, as soon as I started putting data through the socks proxy, the phone stopped taking external power. Tried a number of socks proxys (all that were available at the time) and the behavior was the same. Data passing to/from the phone = battery charges. Data passing THROUGH the phone = no charging. Just having a telnet session open was enough to disable charging. So active tethering sessions were limited to a few hours. That may not sound like a big deal but it really kills the phone. A couple hours of tethered access and the battery's almost dead and you can't swap it out even if you were willing to schlep around extra batteries.

      This is much more devious than making such use outright impossible. Since most people don't know what the heck they're doing, they won't be able to troubleshoot and isolate the problem. Maybe they'll think tethering just takes too much power and that's why it's not supported. [cough]bullshit[/cough] AT&T and Apple get to keep their revenue stream while the customer gets conditioned to avoid the behavior AT&T dislikes. The customer give up on tethering or only use it as a last resort.

      I took the phone back after a few days of testing my charging theory. Currently using a Blackjack 2 which had to be mildly hacked to restore band selection and a couple other options. Tethered 8-10 hours a day as a method of external access testing.

  • How is tethering really any different than buying a wireless cellular modem for your laptop? Those devices are happily sold with data plans - tethering your cell phone just cuts out one additional device. Are they really making that big a profit on those plug-in wireless cards?
    • They're making "that big a profit" by charging you separately for the phone and laptop data plan.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      They're making money because you're now paying for 2 data plans plus 1 tethering plan rather than one of each. If you're geek enough to want tethering, you're also going to want data on your phone for those times when it's not worth the hassle of lugging a laptop. So instead of adding the tethering option to your phone's data plan, you're adding the $50-60 plan for a cellular card/dongle.

      Using AT&T prices:

      The cheapest phone/text/data/tethering plan runs around $105/month. 450 minutes, minimal text pa

  • by wiredlogic (135348) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @04:51PM (#28353407)

    This is complete bullshit. Reverse engineering has always been legal in the US. Talking about in a public forum is likewise perfectly legal. No big media or telecom entity can do anything to stop it. If Palm doesn't like this they should have taken bigger steps to lock the phone down. The devs should proceed as normal and ignore the veiled threats from Palm.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cortesoft (1150075)

      Well then it is a good thing that they never made any legal threats... if you RTFS, you will see that the law was never invoked. I am struggling to see how your post has any bearing on this case.

  • by hellfire (86129) <deviladv @ g m a i l . c om> on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @04:51PM (#28353413) Homepage

    Companies aren't selling goods and services any more, they seem to sell permissions and licenses. What these companies should be selling is a connection and that's it. It should be completely separate from the hardware, and they should not be able to dictate what hardware is allowed on their service, or what you do with your hardware. They should not be allowed to regulate what is transmitted on said line.

    And there should be at least 40 of these companies, not four.

    We need to block all these company mergers, and encourage more start ups to increase competition. And we need to create regulations for the market to stop this nickle and dime shit these companies are allowed to get away with, separating the service from the hardware in order to increase innovation and competition and give rights back to the consumer. These companies have too much power to dick over customers. Whatever happened to treating the customer like a valued customer in this country? Is every single major US company run by a half-assed dickhead who only knows how to make money by screwing customers?

    • What these companies should be selling is a connection and that's it. It should be completely separate from the hardware, and they should not be able to dictate what hardware is allowed on their service, or what you do with your hardware.

      Hm, why does that sound so familiar? [wikipedia.org] I sometimes shudder to think of what the market would look like if decisions like that one were being made today. Then again, who knows? Maybe they are and we don't even realize it.

    • Is every single major US company run by a half-assed dickhead who only knows how to make money by screwing customers?

      No, prostitutes are clitheads with very full asses who make money by screwing customers.

      The difference is, when you pay money and subsequently get screwed, with the prostitutes at least you get what you pay for.

  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris.beau@org> on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @05:04PM (#28353617)

    Maybe I'm just missing the point. But I see two use cases for tethering:

    1. Once in a while you need net and the only thing that can do it is your phone. But most of the time WiFi does the trick. I can see wanting to do this with a smartphone but the carriers shouldn't have a problem with light use of this sort.

    2. You are away from WiFi a lot, or want it as a primary connection. If you have a netbook or laptop handy most of the time why did you get a smartphone? If I were in that situation I'd want the smallest most phonelike phone I could get that supported bluetooth and tethering.

    But AT&T Sprint seems to fear large numbers of customers people want to spend serious coin for oversized premium smartphones so they can leave them in their pocket and bang away on a laptop, sucking up gigs of bandwidth they meter by the GB anyway.

    • I have to do a lot of on site consulting where I need to be able to dial into a server to adjust something on that end. Especially if the customer lacks wifi on site. And often times these are small businesses where someone else set up the wireless password and they have no idea what it is. In a pinch, I can use my iPhone, but we had to get an Air Card for the office because sometimes it took a laptop to make it work well.

      If I can tether with iPhone 3.0, even at a monthly premium, I'd do it and ditch t

  • by Suzuran (163234) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @05:07PM (#28353673)
    The most important question is "How is this Apple's fault?" I'm sure there's a reason!
  • Is to allow phones to pick up services a-la-carte.
    Let my data come from one provider,
    Let my voice, voice mail, and caller ID service come from another,

    This whole idea that the carrier gets all of your a-la-carte services is, quite literally, retarded. Once we can split our services among carriers we'll see real competition again. Don't like Sprint's data policies or rates? Get it from Verizon instead.

  • Tethering is connecting other devices like a laptop to the phone to use the phone's internet.

    For some reason, I couldn't remember that and had a hell of a time attempting to figure it out since the raw definition of tether is a cord that anchors something movable to a stationary point. Tethering as used in the article is more or less a play on this idea as the phone is tethered to the device (laptop) but stationary is more or less relative and no necessary.

  • HDSPA tethering in Japan on Docomo's network costs $8 as a base fee, and then $50 up to 50MB of data. Then it goes up from there to a cap of $100 for 100MB. After 100MB, the charge does not increase. This is for up to 7.2Mbps

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