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Rumor hints at either iPhone tethering or iTunes glitch

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
An allegedly leaked internal document from AT&T refers to tethering the iPhone in what may point to either a data modem capability for the Apple device or else a significant flaw in the iPhone model upgrade process.

The text, which comes from one of Boy Genius Report's "top informants," appears to be targeted at customer service agents and repeatedly alludes to the concept of tethering.

Specifically, the document seemingly addresses a flaw discovered in tethering the device to a computer which asks customers upgrading their iPhones to accept a new two-year contract regardless of any existing agreements. AT&T is aware of the problem and will reset the contract's start date to match what customers originally saw when they first added an iPhone plan.

"Please advise all customers that to complete the tethering process of their new iPhone they will be required to accept a new two-year agreement including the [Terms and Conditions]," the message reads. "However, their agreement will not be extended from their original iPhone activation or upgrade date."

Employees are also given a script to recite to customers upgrading their iPhones.

AT&T's exact meaning is unclear. The cellular provider's references to "tethering" may represent internal phrasing for the initial iTunes activation process and may well refer to customers upgrading to the 16GB iPhone from an existing model rather than any special features.

However, the choice of language is unusual, particularly for speaking with customers more familiar with Apple's own references to activation and sync. In smartphone terms, "tethering" most frequently refers to using a phone as a substitute Internet connection for a computer when a landline or a cellular modem card is unavailable. The handset typically serves either as the modem itself or as a relay.

Apple has not announced any plans to offer data tethering for the iPhone, though the feature has commonly been requested by some current and potential customers, particularly frequent travelers without reliable sources of Internet access.

If the information simply references the higher-capacity iPhone already on sale, however, it nonetheless indicates a wider problem with transitioning customers to newer iPhone models inside AT&T's account system. Apple is said to be aware of the issue regardless of its exact nature.
post #2 of 27
This is really a stretch. The word 'tethering' is not used in this context. I've never heard the word used in reference to Bluetooth connections along these lines. I doubt ATT&T would want their network being used this way given the unlimited nature of the data plans.
post #3 of 27
It sounds like it's both things, to me.

Given that AT&T wouldn't want people to tether (share Internet) their computers without paying more for the inevitable increased usage... this contract agreement issue could stem from the need for a NEW (higher cost) plan that will allow tethering.

Maybe people sign up for tethering, and the system thinks (at least for now) that they are activating a new 2-year plan, when in fact they are only modifying the remainder of their existing plan.

So it seems to me, this could be about BOTH. Both true tethering AND and iTunes activation glitch related to that new option.

I doubt I'd use tethering enough to be worth the cost, unfortunately. It would be cool, but I'd go months without using it since I normally just use WiFi with my laptop. Sounds like we may know the price soon though!
post #4 of 27
I have a 4GB iPhone, purchased in October. When I received it, I noticed a screen defect, and returned it to the Apple Store. They exchanged it for a new iPhone, removed the SIM from the old defective iPhone and placed it in the new iPhone. I was then told to go through the activation process again, and to select the iPhone data plan. They told me that this would not charge me or extend my contract, but was necessary to activate the new iPhone with the old SIM.

Apple's iPhones all come with SIMs pre-installed, my guess is that this is just to let AT&T employees know if people are upgrading to the 16GB iPhone that they'll have to go through the signup procedure again to unlock the iPhone, but it won't extend their contract, provided they are using the same SIM.
post #5 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by merdhead View Post

This is really a stretch. The word 'tethering' is not used in this context. I've never heard the word used in reference to Bluetooth connections along these lines. I doubt ATT&T would want their network being used this way given the unlimited nature of the data plans.

I agree. This is some AT&T definition of "tethering". Besides, why would anyone want to
tether (in the normal sense) to a device working over EDGE? Let's revive this rumor
after 3G comes along . . .
Journalism is publishing what someone doesn't want us to know; the rest is propaganda.
-Horacio Verbitsky (el perro), journalist (b. 1942)
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Journalism is publishing what someone doesn't want us to know; the rest is propaganda.
-Horacio Verbitsky (el perro), journalist (b. 1942)
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post #6 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by merdhead View Post

This is really a stretch. The word 'tethering' is not used in this context. I've never heard the word used in reference to Bluetooth connections along these lines.

I have, but I also believe the choice of words was misleading.

In lieu of actual tethering, the iPhone SIM can be legally used in an appropriate modem like the Merlin XU870, by calling AT&T to activate their LaptopConnect feature. It costs $40/month more than the $20/month for the iPhone unlimited data plan, but the cost is pro-rated for the portion of a billing cycle that it's activated. Historically at least, there's been no fee for activating/deactivating LC. While the SIM is in the modem, you just can't send/receive calls.
post #7 of 27
Is anyone around a lawyer? This is very ambiguous. I sure as hell dont have any idea what they are saying.
post #8 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by merdhead View Post

This is really a stretch. The word 'tethering' is not used in this context. I've never heard the word used in reference to Bluetooth connections along these lines. I doubt ATT&T would want their network being used this way given the unlimited nature of the data plans.

I've heard of Bluetooth tethering used this way several times. What is the wording you've heard used to describe that feature?
post #9 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foo2 View Post

In lieu of actual tethering, the iPhone SIM can be legally used in an appropriate modem like the Merlin XU870, by calling AT&T to activate their LaptopConnect feature. It costs $40/month more than the $20/month for the iPhone unlimited data plan, but the cost is pro-rated for the portion of a billing cycle that it's activated.

I didn't know AT&T is still using the Merlin name. My shop uses a Merlin phone system that seems older than dirt.

That model number you mention is HSDPA and other signal types and not just EDGE. I think that factors into the price of the service.
post #10 of 27
As an AT&T employee I can tell you this is just horrible journalism. This document was emailed to AT&T employees after people complained that when they upgraded from the 8GB to 16GB iPhone it would restart the 2 year contract. It's all about the 16 Gig iPhone and NOTHING about tethering! You think Apple would leak ANYTHING to AT&T before it actually launches? LOL
post #11 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by iFan View Post

You think Apple would leak ANYTHING to AT&T before it actually launches? LOL

This is as likely to be nothing as something, and shouldn't be taken as more than just something to speculate about.

But yes, Apple would certainly "leak" to AT&T (or rather wouldn't even have to) anything to do with Internet tethering OR contract activation. AT&T would be the party in control, in fact. Apple could patch the software to allow tethering but not without AT&T on board.
post #12 of 27
There is some wishful thinking going here. The quoted text doesn't imply internet sharing through an iPhone to a computer. Tethering means to tie, fasten or connect. There is no dubious wording on AT&T's part, just an incorrect interpretation based on a bunch of techheads limited scoop of nomenclature.
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post #13 of 27
Can someone translate this story into English for the average person? And, perhaps, in their kind heart, find a place to tell us lesser folks why we should care if we are iPhone/iTunes users?

Thank you!
post #14 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Can someone translate this story into English for the average person? And, perhaps, in their kind heart, find a place to tell us lesser folks why we should care if we are iPhone/iTunes users?

Thank you!

This;

"Please advise all customers that to complete the tethering process of their new iPhone they will be required to accept a new two-year agreement including the [Terms and Conditions]," the message reads. "However, their agreement will not be extended from their original iPhone activation or upgrade date."


Should be:

"Please advise all customers that to complete the [process of switching their old Phone to a] new iPhone they will be required to accept a new two-year agreement including the [Terms and Conditions]," the message reads. "However, their agreement will not be extended from their original iPhone activation or upgrade date."

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Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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post #15 of 27
I for one would love the ability to tether the iPhone data connection to my laptop. I already do this with my Palm Treo and its an awesome and very useful feature for me as I travel a lot. If Apple and AT&T do enable this feature it would probably get me to finally get an iPhone.
post #16 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

I didn't know AT&T is still using the Merlin name. My shop uses a Merlin phone system that seems older than dirt.

That model number you mention is HSDPA and other signal types and not just EDGE. I think that factors into the price of the service.

Toooooo funny. Charging money for a feature that every Nokia, SE and several other phone manufacturers have had almost from the start, not to mention someone that no network other than AT&T sees as a way to further bilk the customer.

AT&T really needs to develop in a more mature operator and the US operators as a whole needs to grow up to be remotely seen as mature.
post #17 of 27
I have a question. Can't you just take youe AT&T iPhone SIM and stick it in a Nokia, then use the Nokia as a modem for your laptop on your unlimited data plan?
post #18 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

I have a question. Can't you just take youe AT&T iPhone SIM and stick it in a Nokia, then use the Nokia as a modem for your laptop on your unlimited data plan?

True, but as I mentioned, my iPhone is unlocked so why not use this common feature that practically all phone, smart and non-smart, have had for literally years. This is not a new feature in Europe, Japan, The Middle East, and other parts of the world. I have to admit that I was amazed to hear that this is common practice in the US.

Sorry, I forgot to mention that I am currently in Finland, and I do have an unlimited data plan for one of the local operators. As I am trying to get more use out of my iPhone, having the ability to tether it to my Mac would be of great benefit.
post #19 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

I've heard of Bluetooth tethering used this way several times. What is the wording you've heard used to describe that feature?

I'm doing it at this precise moment on my old SE phone. My broadband connection is down

One of the issues I have with the iPhone is the lack of Bluetooth or USB 'tethering'. It's not called that in the UK but it's not uncommon. Currently it costs me £5 for a week of unlimited data or £1 a day on Orange in the UK on an Ad-hoc basis. I use it as a backup mostly.

I was shopping yesterday for a USB 3G modem as backup but they're not quite cheap enough here yet. It's either £100 + £10 a month for 1GB on a PAYG basis or a free modem and £15 a month for 18 months. My Draytek router has a USB port on it and it'll use certain USB modems as backup if the broadband line craps out - which happens all too often just now.

'Tethering' is another checkbox on the 'things the iPhone needs' list before it's useful to me without having to carry another device.
post #20 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by aegisdesign View Post

I'm doing it at this precise moment on my old SE phone. My broadband connection is down

One of the issues I have with the iPhone is the lack of Bluetooth or USB 'tethering'. It's not called that in the UK but it's not uncommon. Currently it costs me £5 for a week of unlimited data or £1 a day on Orange in the UK on an Ad-hoc basis. I use it as a backup mostly.

I was shopping yesterday for a USB 3G modem as backup but they're not quite cheap enough here yet. It's either £100 + £10 a month for 1GB on a PAYG basis or a free modem and £15 a month for 18 months. My Draytek router has a USB port on it and it'll use certain USB modems as backup if the broadband line craps out - which happens all too often just now.

'Tethering' is another checkbox on the 'things the iPhone needs' list before it's useful to me without having to carry another device.

This tethering issue makes me think that AT&T had quite a hand in developing the iPhone. Many of the basic things that the Nokia's, SE's, Samsung's etc..... can do as a phone the iPhone is lacking. The basic BT profiles are missing in the iPhone. No A2DP, no ability to use the iPhone as a modem as an example. These functions have been around for quite a long time.
post #21 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

An allegedly leaked internal document from AT&T refers to tethering the iPhone in what may point to either a data modem capability for the Apple device or else a significant flaw in the iPhone model upgrade process.

The text, which comes from one of Boy Genius Report's "top informants," appears to be targeted at customer service agents and repeatedly alludes to the concept of tethering.

Did anybody bother to read the original source, i.e., the Boy Genius Report at http://www.boygeniusreport.com/2008/...ethering-plan/ which initiated this conundrum.

Note the last paragraph:

UPDATE: Yes, we jumped the gun a little bit and now realize this was a horrible description on AT&T’s part to describe the process of hooking your iPhone up to iTunes. Ironically this email was sent to AT&T employees to try and clear up customer confusion.

This seems to more than support iFan's comment (#10), and for the sake of good journalism, I would hope that AppleInsider would rewrite the article or even delete it entirely.
post #22 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abster2core View Post

Did anybody bother to read the original source, i.e., the Boy Genius Report at http://www.boygeniusreport.com/2008/...ethering-plan/ which initiated this conundrum.

Note the last paragraph:

UPDATE: Yes, we jumped the gun a little bit and now realize this was a horrible description on AT&Ts part to describe the process of hooking your iPhone up to iTunes. Ironically this email was sent to AT&T employees to try and clear up customer confusion.

This seems to more than support iFan's comment (#10), and for the sake of good journalism, I would hope that AppleInsider would rewrite the article or even delete it entirely.

I don't think it was "a horrible description on AT&T's part." The word usage is quite correct, but technical people with a limited vocabulary or wishful desires apparently use it only one way when it comes to cell phones. I choke that up to faulty comprehensive reading, something we all bungle from time to time.
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post #23 of 27
AT&T actually supports phone tethering, and it works great. On the contractual side you need a data plan plus a tethering agreement. I activated this for a friend using the TILT phone and a Windows laptop. After activating tethering on the phone and connecting the USB cable to the laptop, the computer recognized this as a cable modem connection.

Works great, would be NICE to have it on the iPhone (and MAC) too......

Q-chan
post #24 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Q-chan View Post

AT&T actually supports phone tethering, and it works great. On the contractual side you need a data plan plus a tethering agreement. I activated this for a friend using the TILT phone and a Windows laptop. After activating tethering on the phone and connecting the USB cable to the laptop, the computer recognized this as a cable modem connection.

Works great, would be NICE to have it on the iPhone (and MAC) too......

Q-chan

You can. It's called using a Nokia to do something that should naturally be included on an iPhone.
post #25 of 27
This actually sounds like "tethering" is referring to upgrading and transferring information from an older model iPhone to a new model.
post #26 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

I have a question. Can't you just take youe AT&T iPhone SIM and stick it in a Nokia, then use the Nokia as a modem for your laptop on your unlimited data plan?

Sure. I did that. Then I left the SIM in the Nokia.

I grew tired of fighting Apple's company-store iPhone ecosystem and am selling my iPhone.
post #27 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Isomorphic View Post

Sure. I did that. Then I left the SIM in the Nokia.

I grew tired of fighting Apple's company-store iPhone ecosystem and am selling my iPhone.

Sweet!!!!!!!
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