Apple cracks down on Personal Hotspot abuse with iOS 7.1 update

Posted:
in iPhone edited April 2014
iPhone owners who previously made use of the Personal Hotspot feature on wireless networks that do not support it are now out of luck, after changes in iOS 7.1 have disabled the ability to manually edit tethering settings for unauthorized carriers.

Personal Hotspot


Unhappy users have taken to Apple's support forums to grouse about the issue in a thread that now boasts nearly 16,000 views and over 200 individual replies. Users from the U.S., the U.K., the Netherlands, Estonia, Italy, and Sweden, among others, have chimed in to say that their tethering ability was immediately deactivated upon upgrading to the latest revision of Apple's mobile operating system.

According to the reports, any changes made to the APN settings for Personal Hotspot are not saved once the user backs out of the Settings app. The problem has been spotted in every iOS 7-compatible iPhone generation including the flagship iPhone 5s, and was initially blamed on a software glitch.

Subsequent testing and conversations between forum users and Apple support agents, however, appear to have narrowed the issue down to a lack of carrier authorization. Users with carriers that support Personal Hotspot have reported a smooth experience, while those who previously experienced the issue and then swapped their SIM card with one from an authorized carrier have seen the problem disappear.

Some users whose carrier does allow tethering but does not have a current partner agreement with Apple may have been inadvertently affected by the changes. Most, however, appear to have been abusing the function enable Personal Hotspot without paying additional fees.

Unauthorized tethering has been a source of friction between iPhone users and wireless service providers since day one. After Apple's deal with AT&T secured flat-rate unlimited data plans for buyers of the first-generation iPhone, the carrier fought a cat-and-mouse battle with users of unauthorized tethering apps until officially supporting the feature three years later.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 136
    That's really disgusting on Apple's part. Why do they feel compelled to act as the carrier's police when Android doesn't? Nice way to drive customers away to Android.
  • Reply 2 of 136
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    Apple has of course done the right thing putting the interests of carriers first as they are their biggest customers.
  • Reply 3 of 136
    thedbathedba Posts: 474member
    Got scared there for a second.
    I tried tethering my iPad to my iPhone and it still works, through the Telus network (Canada).

    IMO this whole deal of charging you extra for the "privilege" of tethering is nothing but extortion by some carriers. If a user exceeds his monthly data limit, then fine, make him pay.
    But just adding $$ for the right to tether is, IMO ridiculous.

    If anyone has an argument against, I'm all ears.
  • Reply 4 of 136
    If this was truly deliberate removal by Apple, it was a really a poor decision to favor service providers over existing customers. This just gives one more reason to choose an Android phone over an iPhone and supports the argument that Apple does not provide enough flexibility to users.
  • Reply 5 of 136

    Undoubtedly this is a response to discount carrier demands, such as Walmart's Straight Talk, who promise unlimited data in advertising, but exclude tethering in the fine print.  Really shady, IMO.  Possibly also an issue with T-Mobile, Virgin, Cricket, etc.

     

    It's just too easy for a user to turn on tethering when the carrier prohibits it, and subsequently find that the carrier has terminated their plan, because of the data usage.  

  • Reply 6 of 136
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,979member
    That's really disgusting on Apple's part. Why do they feel compelled to act as the carrier's police when Android doesn't? Nice way to drive customers away to Android.

    You're incorrect. Android 4.4 does not permit any unauthorized tethering.
  • Reply 7 of 136
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by LordJohnWhorfin View Post



    That's really disgusting on Apple's part. Why do they feel compelled to act as the carrier's police when Android doesn't? Nice way to drive customers away to Android.

    Apple have contracts with the carriers and they cannot do whatever they want with the cellular networks, they do not own the networks, and they must follow all the rules and limitations that carriers have for their customers. 

     

    Apple would love to give everybody the Personal Hotspot but the carriers do not allow them to do so. If Apple does not do anything to stop the abuses from customers NOT authorized to use Personal Hotstop, then they'll be in the courts with a lawsuit on their ass. 

     

    Android is NOT excluded from this, Google will be forced to add the same restrictions to those phones assuming they're with the same ROM. Any attempts to break the carrier restrictions is actually against the law as you're violating the agreements with your carriers. 

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by PatentHeld View Post



    If this was truly deliberate removal by Apple, it was a really a poor decision to favor service providers over existing customers. This just gives one more reason to choose an Android phone over an iPhone and supports the argument that Apple does not provide enough flexibility to users.

     

    You do realize Apple do not own the networks? They cannot violate contracts they have with carriers just because it might favor the customers. Android is not excluded, there'll be the same restrictions added to Android over time and those networks will start to lock down on Android. They're not doing it now because they want Android to take over but I assure you, they'll do the same thing to Google+Android that they're doing to Apple now. 

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TheDBA View Post



    Got scared there for a second.

    I tried tethering my iPad to my iPhone and it still works, through the Telus network (Canada).



    IMO this whole deal of charging you extra for the "privilege" of tethering is nothing but extortion by some carriers. If a user exceeds his monthly data limit, then fine, make him pay.

    But just adding $$ for the right to tether is, IMO ridiculous.



    If anyone has an argument against, I'm all ears.

     

    Nobody has a con for this, it's all on carriers for being greedy. I'm paying 50$ a month to get 2GB, it shouldn't matter where those 2GB came from.

  • Reply 8 of 136
    gtbuzzgtbuzz Posts: 129member
    The Personal Hotspot Feature should exist on all carriers and not be restricted. The Data Cap is what really matters. Otherwise, the Carrier is ripping off the customers which they are really good at doing. Next time I will buy an unsubsidized phone and not be tied to a carrier for a time period. It is an unreasonable one sided contract. They do not deliver on the service end and we have to deliver (always) on the paying end. I had almost rather be shot than go into a VZ store or call them. Sorry that is how I feel. Even the simplest thing takes an hour to accomplish.
  • Reply 9 of 136
    dreyfus2dreyfus2 Posts: 1,070member
    I am more concerned about Apple's ability to maintain all these profiles and options all the time. E.g. our corporate accounts explicitly allow for tethering, but require a specific APN, user name and password. Of course, none of that is part of Apple's standard carrier profile.
  • Reply 10 of 136
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TeaEarleGreyHot View Post

     

    Undoubtedly this is a response to discount carrier demands, such as Walmart's Straight Talk, who promise unlimited data in advertising, but exclude tethering in the fine print.


     

    Haha, automated advertising on appleinsider.com has placed a StraightTalk advertisement adjacent to my post above.  The ad reads

    "Straight Talk ® Wireless Touchscreen Phone Sale! No Contract Unlimited Talk, Text, & Data - $45."

     

    But if you go to their site, and click on the T&C at the bottom of the page, and scan through the tiny print, you'll find:

    "7. STRAIGHT TALK UNLIMITED PLANS CANNOT BE USED FOR: any applications that tether your device to a laptop or personal computer other than for the use of Wireless Sync. "

     

    So what the right hand gives, the left hand takes away.

  • Reply 11 of 136
    ipenipen Posts: 410member

    That's the reason I never upgrade to a new iOS unless it's out 6 months after all the bugs are ironed out and all the rants are known.  People who did, screwed by Apple.  From what I know,  it'll be difficult to downgrade.

  • Reply 12 of 136
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,118member

    Gotta love people who blame their failures on Apple. You failed an exam? Your own fucking fault for negligence, not Apple's. 

  • Reply 13 of 136
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,718member

    Sometimes Apple does stupid shit.

     

    If I'm paying for 2GB (or 4GB or 10GB or whatever) of bandwidth per month, it shouldn't matter how I use it.  This just allows the carriers to gouge users for an additional fee to use the bandwidth they are already paying for.

     

    I've really been loathe to go the whole jailbreaking route, but this could very well change my mind...

  • Reply 14 of 136
    ipenipen Posts: 410member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MikhailT View Post

     

    Apple have contracts with the carriers and they cannot do whatever they want with the cellular networks, they do not own the networks, and they must follow all the rules and limitations that carriers have for their customers. 

     

    ...


     

    I thought Apple always has the bargaining power.  When did that table turned?

  • Reply 15 of 136
    The answer is simple... move out of America. It seems for the most powerful nation on the planet you lot seem to have a telecommunications system that is a piece of crap.

    I mean I'd expect that from Telecom here in NZ not supposedly the "land of the free" who seem to be less and less free everyday. I feel for you guys you shouldn't have to put up with that crap at all.

    Failing moving away from the US are there actually carriers in the States that allow Personal Hotspot? I'd suggest fixing the problem by going to the carrier that allows it to happen.
  • Reply 16 of 136
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TheDBA View Post



    IMO this whole deal of charging you extra for the "privilege" of tethering is nothing but extortion by some carriers. If a user exceeds his monthly data limit, then fine, make him pay.

    But just adding $$ for the right to tether is, IMO ridiculous.

     

    Agreed.  It's like the water company charging you not only for the amount of water you use, but how many faucets and toilets you have in your house.

     

    Tethering charges should be illegal.  Period.

  • Reply 17 of 136
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,012member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by John.B View Post

     

    Sometimes Apple does stupid shit.

     

    If I'm paying for 2GB (or 4GB or 10GB or whatever) of bandwidth per month, it shouldn't matter how I use it.  This just allows the carriers to gouge users for an additional fee to use the bandwidth they are already paying for.

     

    I've really been loathe to go the whole jailbreaking route, but this could very well change my mind...


     

    "It shouldn't matter" isn't the same as how your contract limits your activity. It would be nice to see a little less regulation and allow more competition among wireless companies (even if that includes letting AT&T gobble up T-mobile).

  • Reply 18 of 136

    I just chatted with a SaskTel support person about this.

     

    Tony: We have a partner agreement with Apple and allow the personal hotspot



    image Tony: My son has it on his iPhone - and I can connect to his hotspot - my personal experience had no issues

     

    So, those of us in Saskatchewan, Canada with SaskTel appear to be safe, for now.

  • Reply 19 of 136
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by GTBuzz View Post



    The Personal Hotspot Feature should exist on all carriers and not be restricted. The Data Cap is what really matters. 

    What you say makes sense but only if there is a data cap. For example, many people have grandfathered unlimited data and tethering to a laptop can consume much more data than can be used up with a phone. I used to have unlimited on my AT&T iPhone but the other devices were on separate 2GB plans. Now we use shared data among five devices, one of which is a carrier provided wifi hotspot and it works out great. We have a 6GB data plan but if we go over they just add another $10 per GB which is a lot better than throttling when you go over 5GB with an unlimited plan which I have heard that AT&T does. The thing that I like about the shared data is that it is more flexible. For example, I might not use very much data on my iPad so the monthly fee is not wasted because I use the data on the hotspot with my MBP when I travel. I hate paying for hotel wifi and refuse to use free public wifi for security reasons.

  • Reply 20 of 136
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,979member
    thedba wrote: »
    Got scared there for a second.
    I tried tethering my iPad to my iPhone and it still works, through the Telus network (Canada).

    IMO this whole deal of charging you extra for the "privilege" of tethering is nothing but extortion by some carriers. If a user exceeds his monthly data limit, then fine, make him pay.
    But just adding $$ for the right to tether is, IMO ridiculous.

    If anyone has an argument against, I'm all ears.

    Apple and Google have done a lot to dry up revenue streams the carriers once had. Apps, ringtones, and SMS/MMS to name a few while at the same time putting a heavier burden on their network. At some time you have to throw them a bone. I'm paying less for service on 2 smartphones now than what I paid on 2 feature phones just a few years ago.
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