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Why should you pay more to use your iPhone as a portable hotspot?

The latest iOS update enables you to turn your iPhone into a wi-fi hotspot, sharing your 3G connection with other devices – and even though iPhone data plans are capped, you still need to pay extra to use the feature. Why could that be? I think I know the answer.

There are only two possible explanations.

One, iPhone data is a different shape from Android data. It’s triangular, or maybe octagonal, and it gets stuck in the internet tubes.

Or two, the networks are bastards.

12 replies on “Why should you pay more to use your iPhone as a portable hotspot?”

Hang on. The plans are capped? When we were discussing this the other day, I had no idea. The networks are even bigger bastards than I’d realised. And Apple are utter shits for enabling this.

Businesses that exist to make money are very likely to charge for any service that adds value, even if it is an enhancement to something you are already paying for. The hotspot feature is undoubtedly useful so this charge is not difficult to understand.

Can’t blame Apple. However, the networks are of course complete and utter bastards and this hotspot charge annoys the hell out of me too.

They are also overmarketing bullshitters – 3G: “mobile broadband anywhere”, if you’re lucky. Remember WAP? “Surf the Web on your phone”, not! SMS: 10p per message for a service that costs next to nothing to provide? They owe their customers.

Here is a good opportunity for a network to stop shafting their customers. 3, giffgaff, anyone?

The problem, IMO, is that the tethering thing was designed for one thing and is being used for another. It uses a separate APN (access point name), which is great if you sell uncapped broadband but don’t want the data hogs to go crazy – you can then set a separate charge for tethering and disable the tethering APN if the customer doesn’t want it.

But on *capped* plans, the same tech means you can disable tethering too.

> Can’t blame Apple.

I think you can, actually. The way they’ve made the tech, it’s just begging to be used in the way the networks are using it. I don’t think it’s something Apple particularly cares about, so they’re conceding this one to the networks. I still think Apple’s considering being a network operator itself.

I think the implementation needed to be flexible and the networks no doubt demand that.

Surely if you’re paying for capped data, you should have a choice of how you use it? The additional tethering and hotspot charges are just opportunist feature taxes.

> Can’t blame Apple.

I’m with Gary: yeah you can. This came up in the earlier thread. This is possible because Apple have built the tethering feature so that it can be switched on and off by the networks. I want to use my Nokia to tether, it just uses Bluetooth to connect to the laptop and uses its standard 3G connection, and all the network see is a phone using data; they have no idea whether it’s connected to anything else. The way the networks used to charge you for tethering on such phones was they’d see you were using tons of data, guess that you might therefore be tethering, and charge you and see if you argued with them. I tethered on O2 and never got charged, because I did it so little it wasn’t much data and wasn’t noticed.

Is the Apple approach now standard? What are Android phones doing? I have no idea.

Apple get away with it because they’re apple. Monopoly laws don’t apply to apple, anti-competitive laws don’t apply to apple and, by all accounts, property laws don’t apply to steve jobs.

> Or two, the networks are bastards.

Gary Marshall, the Scottish version of Charlie Brooker ;)

Gary is far more ranty than Charlie Brooker. And could never manage that haircut.

I’m still going through major wrangles with T-Mobile over the tethering/hotspot double fee debacle, and I still blame the networks.

Apple may have provided the mechanism in iOS for split metering of data at the network end, but ultimately it’s up to the networks not to kick their customers in the nuts over this.

As for T-Mobile – their customer service has melted away into a pot of shite, neatly matching the usefulness of their web site.

It’s almost as if they’re a big bunch of bastards who’ll be first up against the wall when the revolution comes.

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