Are AT&T’s Tethering Practices Fair?

Are AT&T’s Tethering Practices Fair?

It’s recently been out and about that AT&T is accosting certain of its users with text messages and letters, informing them that they’re thought to be using tethering without and official tethering plan.

The messages suggest that users should pay the additional fee, or stop tethering to avoid being force charged the tethering plan’s prices. For unlimited plan users, this force charging would remove their unlimited plan and replace it with a 4GB plan with the additional $25 for tethering. The question is, is this a fair practice? Considering that no tethering option is available to unlimited users, maybe this is AT&T’s way of forcing people off of the unlimited plan?

Consider the following: AT&T’s data plans cost $25 or 2GB of data, and $45 for 4GB of data. Ignoring the fact that these are obscene prices for data in the first place, also consider than in order to officially enable tethering, they want to charge you an additional $25. Naturally, the question that often arises in consumer’s minds is: What am I getting for my extra $25?

From a technical standpoint, it takes little to no effort on AT&T’s part to enable tethering for a user, so they can’t really claim they are offering a monthly service – they simply have to push a button or flip a switch to enable it. In order to sell something as a service, shouldn’t you be required to provide… a service?

Considering that there is no additional network strain to be considered (users are already entitled to their 2 or 4 GB of data), and no real service being provided by AT&T for tethering, is the $25 charge fair? I contest that it is not. And furthermore, considering that tethering really doesn’t fall in the category of a product, or a monthly service, or a (gasp) donation, I question whether the practice is even legal.

Granted, AT&T has good reason not to enable tethering for unlimited users, as it would run the risk of seriously bogging down their network… But for God’s sake, AT&T, how are you legally, morally, and pragmatically justified to charge people extra for capped data just because they may be using it on a different device? I call foul.

If AT&T goes through with their plan to force charge people that continue using jailbreak tethering services such as MiWi, I expect there to be serious lawsuits, notable exclusions from contracts that users may have signed, and perhaps (and even hopefully) a massive consumer and media outcry.

What are your thoughts? Should AT&T be held accountable for what clearly seems to be a scam of sorts? Sound off in the comments!

Via ModMyi