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AT&T Stitching Up Jailbroken iPhone Tethering

Prior to iOS 4.3, the only way for an iPhone to share its 3G connection as a Wi-Fi hotspot was to jailbreak it. Now that it's officially supported in the Apple software, though, U.S. carriers are including the personal hotspot charge in the tethering premium.

While users can still jailbreak and install an after market app such as MyWi to enable Wi-Fi tethering without the need for carrier permission, AT&T is wising up to this practice and has sent out notices to such users.

AT&T has been sending out texts and emails to users whom it believes to be tethering their phones through unauthorized means. It notifies users that AT&T will automatically subscribe them to a new data plan, which could spell big trouble for those still clutching at their grandfathered unlimited data plans.

Below is the email that many users have been seeing in their inbox:

Dear XXXXXXXX, 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 www.wireless.att.com, 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 March 27, 2011. 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 www.att.com/dataplans 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