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TOS limitations on tethering? Citation needed.
diafygi
Enthusiast

I've been reading the Verizon terms of service, but I can't seem to find a restriction for using a phone as a tethering device. Does that mean that we are free to use a phone as a modem and tether to our laptops for internet access?

 

Here are the relevant parts of the TOS:

"Our Rights to Limit or End Service or This Agreement

You also agree your wireless device won't be used for any other purpose that isn't allowed by this agreement or that's illegal....WE CAN, WITHOUT NOTICE, LIMIT, SUSPEND OR END YOUR SERVICE OR ANY AGREEMENT WITH YOU FOR THIS OR ANY OTHER GOOD CAUSE, including, but not limited to: if you: (a) breach this agreement; (b) pay late more than once in any 12 months; (c) incur charges larger than a required deposit, billing limit, or materially in excess of your monthly access charges (even if we haven't yet billed the charges); (d) provide credit information we can't verify; (e) become insolvent or go bankrupt; (f ) lie to us; (g) allow anyone to tamper with your device; or (ii) if you, any user of your device or any authorized contact on your account: (a) threatens or commits violence against our representatives; (b) uses vulgar and/or inappropriate language toward our representatives; (c) steals from us; (d) harasses our representatives; (e) interferes with our operations; (f ) "spams," or engages in other abusive messaging or calling; (g) modifies your device from its manufacturer's specifications; or (h) uses the service in a way that adversely affects our network or other customers."

Based on that section, tethering must be 1) "allowed" by the agreement and 2) not "adversely affect" Verizon's network.

 

A previous section says:

"Your Wireless Device
Your wireless device is any device you use to receive our wireless voice or data service. It must comply with Federal Communications Commission regulations and be compatible with our network and your Plan. Whether you buy your wireless device from us or someone else is entirely your choice."

This means that using your phone to access its registered data service is an "approved" use. Tethering your laptop to the phone doesn't seem to violate that approved use, as long as you are using the registered data service and stay within bandwidth limits. Also, since you are using the registered data service within its limits, it also doesn't appear to "adversely affect" Verizon's network.

 

Another important TOS is the Mobile Broadband Terms:

"Data Plans and Features: Prohibited Uses.

You may not use our Data Plans and Features for illegal purposes or purposes that infringe upon others’ intellectual property rights, or in a manner that interferes with other users’ service, interferes with the network’s ability to fairly allocate capacity among users, or that otherwise degrades service quality for other users.  Examples of prohibited usage include: server devices or host computer applications, including continuous Web camera posts or broadcasts, automatic data feeds, automated machine-to-machine connections, or peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing applications that are broadcast to multiple servers or recipients such that they could enable “bots” or similar routines (as set forth in more detail in (iii) below) or otherwise denigrate network capacity or functionality; (ii) as a substitute or backup for private lines or dedicated data connections; (iii) “auto-responders,” “cancel-bots,” or similar automated or manual routines that generate amounts of net traffic that could disrupt net user groups or e-mail use by others; (iv) generating “spam” or unsolicited commercial or bulk e-mail (or activities that facilitate the dissemination of such e-mail); (v) any activity that adversely affects the ability of other users or systems to use either Verizon Wireless’ services or the Internet-based resources of others, including the generation or dissemination of viruses, malware, or “denial of service” attacks; (vi) accessing, or attempting to access without authority, the information, accounts or devices of others, or to penetrate, or attempt to penetrate, Verizon Wireless’ or another entity’s network or systems; or (vii) running software or other devices that maintain continuous active Internet connections when a computer’s connection would otherwise be idle, or “keep alive” functions, unless they adhere to Verizon Wireless’ requirements for such usage, which may be changed from time to time.  By way of example only, you may not use a Data Plan or Feature for web broadcasting, or for the operation of servers, telemetry devices and/or Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition devices."

There is no specific prohibition for tethering a phone and laptop. In other TOS's, like AT&T's, tethering is specifically prohibited:

"Furthermore, plans (unless specifically designated for tethering usage) cannot be used for any applications that tether the device (through use of, including without limitation, connection kits, other phone/PDA-to computer accessories, BLUETOOTH® or any other wireless technology) to Personal Computers (including without limitation, laptops), or other equipment for any purpose."

Can someone please offer a quote from Verizon's contract that does not allow tethering? I know that you can buy tethering plans. Is that mainly for the program you install on you laptop? If you have your own tethering program (Android has several), there doesn't seem to be a TOS prohibition to using it.

 

It looks like Verizon's open development efforts are actually reflected in their TOS!!!

 

EDIT: I figured I would add another section of the Mobile Broadband Terms:

"Data Plans and Features: Permitted Uses.

You can use our Data Plans and Features for accessing the Internet and for such uses as: Internet browsing; (ii) e-mail; (iii) intranet access (including accessing corporate intranets, e-mail and individual productivity applications made available by your company); (iv) uploading, downloading and streaming of audio, video and games; and (v) Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)."

So as long as you only use your tethered device for those purposes, you should be in the clear, right?

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Correct answers
Re: TOS limitations on tethering? Citation needed.
Chazzer
Enthusiast

http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/store/controller?item=planFirst&action=viewPlanList&sortOption=pr...

 

Goto the PDA smart phone plans as if you were selecting a new plan and the scroll box at the bottom has the terms and conditions for the plan.  This plan according to the general customer agreement becomes part of the agreement.  This is noted by the general customer agreement under "Your plan" in the first line where it states that "your plan becomes part of this agreement".

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Re: TOS limitations on tethering? Citation needed.
nmchileman
Master

Tethering is allowed on almost all smartphone devices and most regular handsets, for some reason or another it is not currently allowed on the Droid. Though it will be.

 

There is an additional cost to tether your device for using it as modem to get internet access on a computer. This is the same with most carrier's. The cost can vary. With VZW it depends on what type of data plan you currently have.

 

If you have the $29.99 data plan then your tethering will cost you $30.

If you have the $44.99 data plan or Nationwide Email plans then tethering will cost you $15.

 

Either way you get 5GB of access of use while tethering. Data on the device still remains unlimited, but for the purpose of tethering there is a 5GB cap.

 

VZW does not currently support hacks, 3rd party solutions or workarounds that prevent you from paying this tethering fee and if they determine you're doing this they can charge you the applicable fee.

 

If you do a search of the forum for "tethering" or "mobile broadband connect" you will find more examples of this feature, pricing, benefits, caps, complaints...etc. So feel free to research a little to be understand tethering with VZW.

 

 

I know this may seem to go against what you think you found in the TOS, but keep in the mind the TOS never explicitly states anything about tethering. Therefore it is not safe for you to assume otherwise.

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Re: TOS limitations on tethering? Citation needed.
diafygi
Enthusiast

nmchileman wrote:

There is an additional cost to tether your device for using it as modem to get internet access on a computer. This is the same with most carrier's.


Verizon's contract is very similar with other carriers. However, a major difference is that there is no specific prohibition of tethering. AT&T ("cannot be used for any applications that tether the device"), T-Mobile ("tethering your device to a personal computer or other hardware, are not permitted"), and Sprint ("you may not use a phone ... as a modem in connection with a computer") all have specific prohibitions. If there is part of Verizon's contract that prohibits tethering, please cite it.


nmchileman wrote:

VZW does not currently support hacks, 3rd party solutions or workarounds that prevent you from paying this tethering fee and if they determine you're doing this they can charge you the applicable fee.


It seems like the only action Verizon can take if it determines that you breach your contract is to end your service. If you've already paid for data service and are using that service, it is not considered a late payment (no late fees). Plus, there is not fee listed in the contract that could be applied to tethering because tethering is not mentioned. Please cite where such fees are listed in the contract.


nmchileman wrote:

If you do a search of the forum for "tethering" or "mobile broadband connect" you will find more examples of this feature, pricing, benefits, caps, complaints...etc. So feel free to research a little to be understand tethering with VZW.


I understand that pay-for-tethering options are available. I'm just trying to find where they are prohibited in normal data plans. If a normal data plan user is using a tethered phone to browse the internet or check email, they are not violating the Mobile Broadband Terms and Conditions or the VZACCESS Acceptable Use Policy. In fact, the Mobile Broadband T&C specifically lists internet browsing and checking email as "Permitted Uses." Of course, if I'm just overlooking a section of the T&C, please cite it.

 

It seems like tethering is not prohibited, but also not supported. That means that it is within the contract to use a tethered device, but Verizon does not provide technical/hardware support for such devices without additional fees.


nmchileman wrote:

I know this may seem to go against what you think you found in the TOS, but keep in the mind the TOS never explicitly states anything about tethering. Therefore it is not safe for you to assume otherwise.


I'm not sure I understand your point. Many uses are not listed explicitly in the contract. For example, downloading apps on the Droid from the Marketplace is not explicitly allowed. Should I assume that downloading apps from the Marketplace is not allowed?

 

Using your "wireless device," which is "any device you use to receive our wireless voice or data service," to transfer data via your registered data plan is an "approved use" and "permitted use" (Customer Agreement). In fact, Verizon goes so far to say that "whether you buy your wireless device from us or someone else is entirely your choice." This is very broad approval about what hardware you use to access your registered (and paid) data services. This is in line with Verizon's open development practices (from the FAQ: "Is it true that any device will be allowed to connect to the Verizon Wireless network? Yes, as long as it meets the ODI requirements." Smart phones, such as the Droid, meet those ODI requirements).

 

The only criteria that must be met for use of services is that "it must comply with Federal Communications Commission regulations and be compatible with our network and your Plan." Since the Mobile Broadband plan terms lists "permitted uses" and "prohibited uses," and using a device to browse and check email is listed as a "permitted use", and tethering is not listed as a "prohibited use", it seems like a tethered device is both "permitted" and not "prohibited." I might be missing something, so please cite any contrary observation.

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Re: TOS limitations on tethering? Citation needed.
nmchileman
Master

You're reading way too deep into this TOS thing, homie.

 

Tethering is only allowed with an additional feature. If you find a work around to that, either thru a phone hack or application, and VZW catches you, they have a right to charge you the required monthly fee or at worst terminate your service. There's nothing in the TOS that confirms or disputes this, but that's the way it is.

 

So....what more do you need to know than that?

 

Either pay legitimately or find a work around and run the risk of getting caught.

 

Personally, I found a hack for my Samsung Omnia which let me rebroadcast my WiFi signal and I picked it up on my laptop. Granted, I only used it for 3-4 months but I never heard a peep from VZW about it.

 

 

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Re: TOS limitations on tethering? Citation needed.
diafygi
Enthusiast

nmchileman wrote:

You're reading way too deep into this TOS thing, homie.


I don't think so. We're talking about a multi-billion dollar, two-year binding contract between millions of consumers and the largest wireless company in the United States. Everything should be crystal clear.


nmchileman wrote:

Tethering is only allowed with an additional feature.


Ok, please let me know where it says that in the contract. After all, it is the agreement between the comsumer and the service provider and both have to follow it. Why should the consumer follow a rule that isn't in the contract?


nmchileman wrote:

There's nothing in the TOS that confirms or disputes this, but that's the way it is.


Contracts don't work like that. Both parties must follow the terms. Verizon can't just charge for a rule that was never agreed upon at the start. They must notify of a change to the contract and offer the consumer 60 days to cancel the contract without penalty.

Re: TOS limitations on tethering? Citation needed.
supitsmike
Specialist

Hey guys.

 

Just to clarify, it's not Verizon that stops the Tethering, nor is it not the Droid's capabilities. Google does not want their phones to natively have Tethering capabilites without there being some charge/fee. The MyTouch3G, for example, was able to do Wifi-Tethering about up until a couple of months ago. Now it's only available free to those who root.

 

 

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Re: TOS limitations on tethering? Citation needed.
diafygi
Enthusiast

 


supitsmike wrote:

Just to clarify, it's not Verizon that stops the Tethering, nor is it not the Droid's capabilities. Google does not want their phones to natively have Tethering capabilites without there being some charge/fee.


 

So WM6 smart phones are allowed to tether without an additional fee? WM5 and 6 come with an "Internet Sharing" application by default. I thought that wasn't allowed either, even though it was provided with the phone.

 

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Re: TOS limitations on tethering? Citation needed.
supitsmike
Specialist

diafygi wrote:

 


supitsmike wrote:

Just to clarify, it's not Verizon that stops the Tethering, nor is it not the Droid's capabilities. Google does not want their phones to natively have Tethering capabilites without there being some charge/fee.


 

So WM6 smart phones are allowed to tether without an additional fee? WM5 and 6 come with an "Internet Sharing" application by default. I thought that wasn't allowed either, even though it was provided with the phone.

 


 

Correct, however, we're speaking about an OS that's created by Google. Google=/=WM.

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Re: TOS limitations on tethering? Citation needed.
diafygi
Enthusiast

 


supitsmike wrote:

Correct, however, we're speaking about an OS that's created by Google. Google=/=WM.


 

When you get an Android phone, do you have to agree to a no-tethering clause? Where can we get a copy of that agreement?

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Re: TOS limitations on tethering? Citation needed.
supitsmike
Specialist

When you get an Android phone (Particularly a "Google Experience" phone), you agree to anything Google has to say/do/touch/lick/wreck with their Google Stamped Phones.

 

There are plenty of articles concerning it, here's one just to name:

 

http://google.about.com/b/2009/03/31/no-tethering-for-android.htm

And

http://www.findmysoft.com/news/No-Android-Tethering-App-Says-Google/

 

 

So stop bashing Verizon.

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