PSA: Hacked Your iPhone To Tether For Free? AT&T's Going To Charge You Automatically

Sorry, Jailbreakers; looks like the free ride might be over.

A few weeks back, a good number of folks who had been using a not-quite-official method of tethering their AT&T iPhones received a friendly little alert:

AT&T Free Msg: Did you know tethering your Smartphone to a computer requires a tethering plan?

In other words: they know what you’re up to, Buster Brown, and they’d rather you stopped. Now, AT&T is following up with a second, not-so-subtle message: knock it off, or you’re gonna feel it on your bill.

The text:

AT&T Free Msg: We’ve noticed you’re continuing to enjoy the tethering feature with your smartphone service. Remember, you need a tethering plan ($45/mo, incl. 4GB) to use this feature, so we’re planning to update your line with the required plan soon. Visit or call 888-860-6789.

We sent a note over to AT&T, and they confirmed the message as legit. If they detect you’re hackin’ up a piping hot bowl of tether soup, they’ll send you a note or two in hopes that you’ll either end your tethering adventures or plunk down the cash for the tethering plan. Continue to tether without coughin’ up, and they’ll add the $45 plan to your monthly bill automatically. Prediction: AT&T’s going to have to deal with a lot of pissed off parents over this one.

We asked how they were determining who was tethering through unofficial means (I figured it might just be folks with curiously high data usage), but their answer doesn’t really dive into the methodology: “The network is able to determine if a smartphone customer is using the device as a broadband connection for other devices.

The most unfortunate bit: as far as I can tell, even folks on the grandfathered unlimited data plan — the one you have to give up if you want in on the legit tethering solution — are getting these messages.