iTether app permits iPhone tethering, removed in less than a day

By on November 29, 2011, 3:30 PM

A new iPhone app called iTether allowed users to tether their phone’s Internet connection to a PC or Mac without being charged a monthly subscription fee. The app has already bee pulled by Apple in less than a day, contrary to what the developer led us to believe.

iTether sold for $14.99 which may sound like a lot for a single app, but considering how expensive carrier tethering plans are, it certainly seems like a bargain. Once purchased and installed on your phone, users would also need to download the accompanying PC or Mac tethering software, available from Tether.com.

US carriers forbid users to tether their iPhone unless they subscribe to a pricey tethering plan. AT&T has even been known to downgrade unlimited data accounts that they suspect are using tethering via jailbreaks and automatically upgrading users to tethering plans.

A tweet from Tether.com points out that the company was very clear with Apple about what their app did. It says they asked a bunch of questions and then approved the app. Apple has since pulled the app about an hour ago despite initially approving it for sale in their store.

Tether.com has responded with an official statement saying that Apple called them around 12pm EST and said they were pulling the app because it burdens the carrier network. Users who purchased the app before it was pulled will still be able to use iTether, although we are unsure if there will be any repercussions from carriers for doing so.




User Comments: 10

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Xclusiveitalian Xclusiveitalian said:

Sounds like only the phone companies are allowed to scam their customers

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Makes you just want to run right out and buy an iPhone, doesn't it?

Guest said:

It's not a new app, it has been out for years on Blackberry and Android app stores. I have no idea why iPhones can't have it.

Scshadow said:

I don't see how this whole tethering thing hasn't become a lawsuit yet. I'm so tired of these cell phone companies getting away with murder so to speak. We pay for data services to our phone. If we want to use its hardware to broadcast a wireless extension of those services to our other devices, its none of their business. Wasn't there already a lawsuit way back when saying broadband internet companies couldn't charge customers a monthly fee for using a wireless router? Why doesn't that apply here?

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Scshadow said:

I don't see how this whole tethering thing hasn't become a lawsuit yet. I'm so tired of these cell phone companies getting away with murder so to speak. We pay for data services to our phone. If we want to use its hardware to broadcast a wireless extension of those services to our other devices, its none of their business. Wasn't there already a lawsuit way back when saying broadband internet companies couldn't charge customers a monthly fee for using a wireless router? Why doesn't that apply here?

It's all about "fair use" in the eyes of the providers. You pay for data services for your phone, which the company has estimated typical usage for. When you tether to other systems that have nothing to do with your phone, you have crossed their imaginary threshold between a "phone data" situation and a "strictly data" situation. So, in a nutshell: you are using way more data than they intended, therefore you need to pay more for the increased bandwidth being used. It's semi-arbitrary, definitely driven by profit chasing, but also has a slight ring of truth to it. The big providers can play the victim card, saying consumers are trying to do an end-run around the rules, and stealing profit while overtaxing their infrastructure. Feel sorry for them yet? (Me either)

As for why that wireless router ruling doesn't apply... While they are very similar in many respects, the router issue dealt with a dedicated data plan to a specific static location (where the router becomes the point of access rather than a PC), not a floating wireless phone plan with data added on (where the phone is always still a phone). It would probably take some serious lawyering and a few lucky legal breaks to eliminate the apples-to-oranges argument.

waterytowers said:

You pay for data with a phone, it should not matter how you use the data. If it exceeds the usage they estimate, they should stop providing data plans with that much data. Very simple really.

slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I don't really have any sympathy for anyone using excessive data - they're screwing everyone else over. The fair usage policies are there for a reason.

In the UK most data plans are now capped between 250MB and 1GB per month, which is a lot more sensible and transparent than the "unlimited" name.

Guest said:

Yes, but in the UK we can also tether phones - we don't have the ridiculous extra charges that are ripped off from consumers in the US.

Besides, it's not actually about 'using' too much data. If I watch a video from YouTube on my phone, how is that different from watching the same video on my laptop, using my phone as the wireless hotspot, using the same data plan? It's not. Data usage amounts are a separate issue - if someone uses data too much, they should pay more or be capped. However, if they have legitimate scale uses, then why should it make a difference

Just imagine going and hiring a mountain bike for off-road use, but being told that you have to pay a lot extra to the bike company to use it on-road.

Guest said:

Wow. It's kind of funny. A lot of people buy iPhones thinking they're sign of money or status symbols or whatever... If you have an iPhone why not just spend the extra few bucks a month to use your carriers options for tethering?

Emexrulsier said:

You mention in the UK tethering is allowed, this isn't strictly true. A lot of carriers such as o2, vodafone and Orange all stipulate you must pay additional fees to use tethering. On the iphone to enable the feature is ask you for payment details. Weirdly though the same carrier o2 the option is free to use on Android but again t&cs for o2 do state you shouldn't be doing it and you may find increased charges or disconnection. Tbh though the power and functionality of smartphones nowadays it would be hard to determine the difference between originating traffic types.

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