Interesting debate at ZDNet over wireless data plans: James Kendrick claims that unpaid tethering makes you a thief. Thankfully his fellow ZDNet-er Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has the common sense to dispute this tethering thief nonsense.
Yes, technically if your wireless contract includes an anti-hotspot clause and you turn this feature on, you are in violation. Of the contract, that is. Your provider has the right to levy additional charges, or terminate your contract. But does that make you a thief? I’d much rather conclude your provider commits highway robbery.
Remember this device?
Yes, phones used to look like that. And there was a time when phone companies (actually, “the” phone company, Ma Bell) charged extra when you had more then one outlet in your home….
Remember the early days of cable TV? You had to ( well, were supposed to) pay extra for each additional cable outlet.
How about the early days of the Internet, before wireless became pervasive? Yes, ISPs expected you to pay extra for each outlet. If they found out you installed a router, they demanded extra pay.
These anachronistic charges are all gone – we pay for the service, no matter what device we use to access it.
I love Steven’s water analogy, and I take it a step further: If you buy a bottle of water, do you pay more depending on whether you drink it straight out of the bottle, a glass, or heaven forbid 2 or 3 glasses? I thought so.
So why would wireless access be any different? We own an ever-increasing number of devices, but the underlying service is the same. In fact chances are when I use my iPad, Android Tab), I will not be using my Netbook / Notebook, or browse the Net on iPhone, Android phone…etc. As a consumer I may own a variety of situational devices, but most likely I will only use them one at a time.
It’s time wireless providers wake up to the 21st century and charge for consumption on a per account (person) basis, not per device.
Oh, and one more thing: if you want to break out of your wireless carrier’s chains, you may want to consider prepaid service. Me thinks the the Virgin Mobile $25 unlimited data / 300 mins. talk combo is a steal. One that does not make you a thief. 🙂