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Cellphones Businesses The Almighty Buck Wireless Networking

Verizon Droid Tethering Comes At a Hefty Price 555

Posted by timothy
from the unlimited-and-5GB-are-not-the-same dept.
Pickens writes "Tom Bradley reports in PC World that the new Motorola Droid smartphone will cost users $199.99 with a 2-year contract, with an additional $30 per month for the mandatory 'unlimited' data plan that has a monthly cap of 5Gb. Verizon will charge $50 for each additional gigabyte over the 5Gb limit on the unlimited data plan. Verizon has confirmed that tethering will cost another $30 per month for an additional unlimited data plan that is also limited to 5Gb. If you want tethering you will pay $60 above and beyond the monthly contract for service for an 'unlimited' 10Gb of data per month, and if you plan on connecting with an Microsoft Exchange email account you have to pay another $15 a month. 'Verizon seems to be doing everything it can to make the Droid as unappealing as possible by nickel and diming customers so that actually using it is not cost-effective,' writes Bradley. 'After all of the hype around Verizon's marketing efforts, and generally favorable reviews of the Motorola Droid, users that rush out to get the new device may be in for a shock.' Droid users will have to wait until sometime in 2010 for tethering. 'That service is on our schedule for next year,' says Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Raney. The delay is because 'the service has to be tested on the phone so until we know it works, we don't offer the service. It is not uncommon for us to introduce the phone and continue to test the service and offer it later.'"
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Verizon Droid Tethering Comes At a Hefty Price

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  • Re:Beats UK prices (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nursie (632944) on Monday November 09, 2009 @09:01AM (#30031420)

    What are you talking about?

    T-Mobile offer a £12 (or 12.50) add-on for their contracts (or included in some of them) that gets you 3GB including tethering. You're being ripped off if you're still paying late-90s data prices.

  • Re:Free market (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Skater (41976) on Monday November 09, 2009 @09:10AM (#30031518) Homepage Journal

    Pretty much. My fiancee and I will be combining our accounts next spring (she has AT&T, I have Verizon), and AT&T is sort of our default because both of our families use AT&T. We want smart phones, not necessarily the iPhone, and I was excited about the Droid. I should have expected that Verizon would come up with an 'unlimited' but capped at 5 GB plan. Guess it'll be the iPhone after all.

    I really do want to be able to tether, because we occasionally travel and don't have WiFi access and I want to use the laptop. But I've survived this long without tethering, and a smart phone will be enough for light web browsing and email.

  • TetherBot (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jspenguin1 (883588) <jspenguin@gmail.com> on Monday November 09, 2009 @09:11AM (#30031528) Homepage
    So, does this mean they're going to have some draconian lockdown that prevents tetherbot [graha.ms] from working? T-Mobile doesn't like it either, but it works even on a non-developer G1.
  • by Jace Harker (814866) on Monday November 09, 2009 @09:37AM (#30031786) Homepage

    This isn't new: these terms are exactly the same as Verizon's current plans for Blackberry service. $30/month for the smartphone "data plan", plus an extra $30/month for tethering. And yes, they've always called it "unlimited", but it's always been capped at 5GB. I've been paying these rates for some time. It's annoying, but it's been going on for ages.

    It's amusing to me that people are only getting outraged about this now because Verizon is selling a popular new phone that everyone wants to buy.

  • Re:Free market (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday November 09, 2009 @09:52AM (#30031922) Journal
    Depends on how locked down the device is. If they control the software, they can get a message whenever you use the bluetooth DUN profile, or just disable it if you don't pay the fee. The AUP for my phone plan (T-Mobile UK) prohibits IM and tethering, but they've never complained when I used a Jabber client on my laptop via my phone. They could also use IP stack fingerprinting, which isn't 100% reliable but may be good enough to spot a Symbian, Blackberry, or iPhone stack.
  • Re:Free market (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jammindice (786569) on Monday November 09, 2009 @10:17AM (#30032212) Homepage
    Actually i completely disagree with your statement. I've had a BB storm for almost a year now and they charge the EXACT same thing for the storm. You have to pay the $30 unlimited web plan and to tether it is another $30/mo but i'm not sure if they are two different caps or if they both share the same cap. i use my phone fairly heavily for web stuff and email and opening large (2mb+) attachments and i've yet to even come close to just 1GB a month.

    I do agree that tethering is something that shouldn't cost extra and that's why i refuse to pay the additional $30 for that but they do have other options that will let you use it for a day for $10 i think and a week for $20, i don't remember the exact details but if you were gonna use it often then the $30 was worth it but to connect just for a day or two here and there it wasn't.

    And honestly with the coverage and other benefits Verizon (at least in my area) is the best and you can bet every other cell company has a similar cap in their contract and if not then there service or coverage isn't good and they're using it just to attract customers.
  • Re:MOD PARENT DOWN (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AmigaMMC (1103025) on Monday November 09, 2009 @10:21AM (#30032262)
    It could be ground for class action. "Unlimited" and "10GB limit" are mutually exclusive. This is deceptive marketing. Isn't that bad enough that we still have to pay to receive phone calls and text messages?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 09, 2009 @10:23AM (#30032290)

    The data plan is, in fact, unlimited. I go over 5 GB a month on my current Verizon phone regularly.

    So if you've actually got one, perhaps you can help me out here...

    1) What are you doing that puts you over the cap? 5GB/mo = 166MB/d. Can you give me a typical week's usage pattern? (i.e. 5 days of random web/email stuff, and then you watch a movie on YouTube during the weekend?)
    2) Your claim is that tethered data is subject to the 5GB cap, but that untethered data (read: "surfing the web from the phone") isn't?
    3) What happens when you hit the cap with untethered data? Does it shut off, throttle, or does it charge you $50/GB next month?
    4) If you're talking about an Android-based phone and one of the many apps out there for tethering, how does the phone tell VZ whether a given byte is from tethered or untethered data?

  • Re:Free market (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 09, 2009 @10:25AM (#30032314)

    Just a note - the iPhone's "Unlimited Data" plan is also now capped at 5 GB/month. It used to be truly unlimited but that didn't last too long..

  • Re:Free market (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ironwill96 (736883) on Monday November 09, 2009 @10:30AM (#30032362) Homepage Journal

    One of my friends unlocked his Blackberry and enabled tethering without paying Verizon the tethering fee. He was playing MMOs via the phone's internet connection and this lasted for about half a month before Verizon noticed and disconnected him. When he opened up a web browser they showed him a message telling him that he was tethering without paying for it and offered to re-enable it for a few dollars a month. All he had to do was click "ok" and it automatically added tethering to his bill and re-enabled the access instantly.

    They are doing something to track if you are tethering and not paying for, possibly just by watching the usage and what kinds of things you are doing (for example - WoW packets showing up on the phone automatically means tethering since the phone itself isn't capable of playing World of Warcraft).

  • Re:Free market (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 09, 2009 @10:33AM (#30032406)

    In Europe, Japan and South Korea they actually regulations that prevent selling locked phones, long term contracts, and to force reselling of connections at reasonable prices.

    You paint a rosier picture than it really is. In the UE, consumer protection rules came together mostly in the last decade or even in the last years.

    * Roaming price fixing was regulated only very recently, by imposing a maximum cap.

    * Locking phones is allowed; the operator has to unlock it free of charge when you leave their service, but not while you're still using them.

    * Long term contracts are technically illegal but it depends on the circumstances; the contract itself is not illegal, what's illegal is not presenting an alternative offer without the long term binding, so the consumer has a choice.

    * Operators will try anything they can think of to maximize their profits, even when it goes straight against the letter of the law. Simply put, companies are greedy bastards anywhere in the world. Yes, the consumer protection organizations are pretty quick to slap them down, but they depend on the consumer actually making a complaint. Which doesn't always happen (ignorance or can't be bothered); in fact, I'd say it doesn't happen enough to make it profitable when you think of the ratio of consumers they get fined for compared to those who make never make a complaint.

    These being said, the level of service and the prices are much better from what I read. I mean, seriously, dropped calls as routine? That's crazy. Yeah, it might happen, if you go through a tunnel or on New Years when half the country calls the other half at the same time. But it's far from the norm.

  • Re:Free market (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tintivilus (88810) <tintivilus@tin t i v i l u s.org> on Monday November 09, 2009 @10:54AM (#30032754)

    AT&T enforces tethering fees on WinMo by locking the "internet sharing" app to use a different GPRS APN than the phone itself uses. No extra $, no access to the magic APN, no tethering. Of course, if you buy an unlocked (ie unbranded retail, not SIM-unlocked AT&T) WinMo phone, you can just configure internet sharing to use the usual APN, and everything is hunky dory.

    With Droid I'd imagine it'll be easier. There are already several tethering solutions for G1 that should work just as well for Droid.

  • by $1uck (710826) on Monday November 09, 2009 @11:13AM (#30033042)
    The reviewer seems a little clueless. Seriously he thinks learning programming in java is harder than using javascript css and html? And he tells developers to run (from android) based on his opinion of a single phone? Seriously? I think he lacks a basic understanding of the phone market.
  • Re:Quick Guys! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by elronxenu (117773) on Monday November 09, 2009 @11:20AM (#30033138) Homepage

    If they're not robots, what can possibly explain this:

    Verizon doesn't know Dollars from Cents [blogspot.com]

    Here's the background: I have a Verizon unlimited data plan in the U.S. and recently crossed the border to Canada. Prior to crossing the border I called customer service to find out what rates I'd be paying for voice and data. The data rate I was quoted was ".002 cents per kilobyte." I was surprised at the rate so I confirmed it with the representative I spoke to, and she confirmed it "point zero zero two cents per kilobyte." I asked her to note that in my account.

    The stupidity just goes on, and on, and on ...

  • Re:MOD PARENT DOWN (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cgenman (325138) on Monday November 09, 2009 @11:45AM (#30033524) Homepage

    Fair catch. But win this one in court and then they just point out that it says nothing about guaranteed rates. Used more then 1Gb? 1Kbyte/sec maximum it is for you then.

    Which is still an improvement. Going from outright lying to just being slimy is much better than we've got in the right now. Unlike jolly old england, we don't actually have an agency currently enforcing truth standards in advertisements.

  • Re:MOD PARENT DOWN (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MattskEE (925706) on Monday November 09, 2009 @12:07PM (#30033820)

    Fair catch. But win this one in court and then they just point out that it says nothing about guaranteed rates. Used more then 1Gb? 1Kbyte/sec maximum it is for you then.

    But from TFS, from info in the second article:

    Verizon will charge $50 for each additional gigabyte over the 5Gb limit on the unlimited data plan.

    They are clearly *not* just going to throttle you when you have used enough, they will keep charging you more at 5 cents/MB. So in a way it is "unlimited", but only in the sense that your bill for that month is also unlimited...

  • by DragonTHC (208439) <Dragon&gamerslastwill,com> on Monday November 09, 2009 @12:18PM (#30033986) Homepage Journal

    I received this response:

    I regret hearing that you have decided not to activate service with us based on the pricing of our plans and services. I can certainly understand as well that you need to keep your wireless service as cost effective as possible.

    Please note, Verizon Wireless is always looking for ways to enhance our products and services to better meet the needs of our customers. Your comments have been forwarded to our Management department for review and consideration. Your feedback provides us with the perfect opportunity to hear exactly what you think, and often leads to improvements you will see in the future.

    I also called a couple of weeks ago and a phone rep told me (paraphrased) that I could keep my own service and deal with dropped calls all the time or pay more for better service.

    So basically, Verizon thinks its service is worth more money despite providing the same level for more than any other carrier.

    My t-mobile with 2 G1 phones comes with 1000 minutes, unlimited data, unlimited m2m and nights and weekends, 400 sms. My bill is an average of $130 a month.

    Verizon's comparable plans would be $180 for less minutes.

  • Re:Tethering (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Locutus (9039) on Monday November 09, 2009 @12:33PM (#30034222)
    so now I'm wondering why is this added tethering cost a big deal when the phone/service to beat is the iPhone and they don't have the tethering option? Just last weekend, an iPhone user told me he jailbroke his iPhone and tethers it and IIRC, he already pays around $70/mon to use that phone. And really, $30 for 5 GB( it is Bytes, not bits ) and who would _not_ expect them to charge more for tethering if that really was an option?

    Now where's the link to all the 3G carriers who allow tethering and how much they charge? This great ape wants to know.

    LoB
  • Re:Free market (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sandbags (964742) on Monday November 09, 2009 @02:14PM (#30035812) Journal

    Simple, in so many ways

    1) the PC will pass it;s MAC address through the device. This can easily be detected.
    2) Android does not his update.microsoft.com, nor an AV update site, nor half a dozed other IPs and services that are rediculously difficult to prevent your PC from communicating with.
    3) "browser type" is not the android default on your PC.
    4) simple software that's part of the bridged network adapter "tells" them it's being tethered, and tracks the data through each interface seperately.
    5) downloading files through any means the android OS does not support is easily detected.

    There are a dozen other ways, especially depending on the content you access, the protocol you use, and more.

  • Re:Tethering (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DJRumpy (1345787) on Monday November 09, 2009 @03:08PM (#30036532)

    Oh, I should note that there is not additional fee to use ActiveSync on AT&T's network either. I'm really surprised Verizon is going to try and nickel and dime on that aspect.

    I'm also curious as to what the 'base' cost of the droid will be monthly on Verizon? $60 bucks is expensive on AT&T, but covers the basics cell/data (no tethering and texts optional). I wonder how the two stack up? From what I'm reading, it will be $60 dollars for the 'unlimited' limited 10GB plan, on top of the monthly base charge?

  • Re:MOD PARENT DOWN (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cl1mh4224rd (265427) on Monday November 09, 2009 @07:45PM (#30040216)

    that's where class action suits come in

    Oh goody, so instead of the stress of a lawsuit with a huge telco, I wait 3 years and get a coupon good for "$10 off my next Verizon phone purchase", while the law firm makes $50M in fees and contingency?

    Color me unexcited.

    I think you may be completely missing the point of a lawsuit like this. That's... disheartening.

    I see Slashdotters rant and rave about how companies use lawsuits as revenue streams, and yet here we have a comment that shows no interest in a lawsuit that doesn't result in a significant personal gain.

    Sometimes you sue just to get things changed.

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken

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