Humberto Saabedra is the Editor-in-Chief of and an occasional columnist for He can also be found musing on things at @AnimeNewsdotbiz

69 responses to “Sprint to Ban Tethering on Smartphones Next Year, Other Plans Revealed”

  1. F1

    …..The ban will be placed on smart devices activated on the carrier’s current lineup of Everything plans. Phonenews 10/29/09

    That did not take to long, SPRINT already back pedalling, on the E.P.,nice, I wonder how they will feel about the new replacement plan that will limit their phone choices next year. Since 4G data is not made of the same 1s and 0s!

    Thank You

  2. F1

    to long ==> too long

    Thank You

  3. Don Louie

    Hell, what else can happen they are already leaving

  4. MrNybble

    Bad move Sprint….Really bad move. My families 3 contracts will be up by then so if I can’t use the internet at the Lake, it will be time to move on. AT&T has great coverage it is just too expensive…that may soon change. You might want to stop restricting your customers choices and crippling your phone features.

    Can anyone say FM Radio on Touch Pro and Touch Pro 2.

  5. Any Pro users going to get the Touch Pro 2? - Page 10 -

    […] no. Sprint is trying to ban tethering in 2010. News: Sprint to Ban Tethering on Smartphones Next Year, Other Plans Revealed | __________________ Dell x51v → Motorola Q (Verizon) → Mogul → 800w → […]

  6. Philip

    Can this really be done by Sprint?

  7. Christopher Price

    Sprint can remove features from a phone which enable it to tether. They also can implement roadblocks, or ask that you use specific plans.

    However, under the Comcast/BitTorrent ruling from the FCC, a provider cannot punish you for working around those restrictions. A carrier cannot block any specific application on the internet, including the personal use of tethering on a single device.

    As such, yes, Sprint can remove tethering from phones. But, legally, there’s nothing stopping you from hacking your phone around that. If you can make it work, it’s legit in the eyes of the federal government.

  8. SaltyDawg

    So will this allow people to get out of their contracts when it happens? Also, will they really be able to ban it or are they just going to stop selling it?

    I don’t see how they would know if I am using WM Wifi Router to tether…

  9. JJ

    I don’t get it. How will they do this? Like someone already asked, are they just going to stop selling the tethering feature? Of course they won’t be able to stop on current phones that already have a work around for tethering, right?
    Sprint is really trying to test customers. They just lost another 135,00 customers.
    This will definitely get sprint in trouble with the government with the net neutrality. This will definitely violate that rule. This is just like att or cox cable preventing you from hooking more than one computer on a single router. This is unbelievable.
    If I can’t tether then what is the point of signing a contract and keeping their service. I can just go with pageplus or straightalk. I really hope we find out the details on how sprint is going to enforce this.

  10. Jeff


  11. SaltyDawg

    I just can’t see any way for Sprint to enforce this. Unless Google and Microsoft put something into the future operating systems that will alert the carrier when it is tethering. I guess that is a possibility. But WMWifi Router should work. And if it stops working, you can bet there will be some other app that works.

    Or unless Sprint starts using some sort of proxy server that detects and filters data. I would think such a move would be enough to get everyone out of their contract early though.

  12. Christopher Price

    This will not affect Sprint contracts. Sprint will not touch older devices, so you will simply have to use an older device that does support PAM.

    As to enforceability, Sprint won’t go on-record about this, but it is clear that they understand the FCC’s ruling on this better than most carriers. They respect that, if a customer is savvy enough to work around it, that there is nothing they can do about it (legally or technically).

    However, Windows Mobile can be crippled against tethering. WMWifiRouter relies on Windows internals, and those Windows internals can be frozen with the assistance of Microsoft.

  13. Christopher Price

    And, I want to clarify to JJ, that this will not run afoul of the FCC. Sprint has the right to ship devices with whatever capabilities they want. There is no FCC mandate that phones must have the ability to tether, only that if someone can make a phone tether… that the carrier cannot penalize the customer for doing so.

  14. SaltyDawg

    I think this is a non issue. Sprint has never “allowed” tethering anyway, unless you pay extra for a tethering plan.

    I’m sure everyone will find a way around this. Either by installing an app, doing a registry tweak, installing a cab that patches a few files, or even flashing a custom ROM.

    This could also just be Sprint’s way of saying they won’t sell tethering plans anymore. I’m sure they must know they can’t stop their most technically savvy customers form fnding a way to get this done. And the people who buy expensive smartphones and care about tethering are going to be the most technically savvy. This is a war Sprint can’t win, and I don’t think they would be foolish enough to fire the first shot in a war they know they can’t win.

    If Sprint was successful in blocking tethering, as unlikely as it may be, we would then see a major movement to get the feds to force all carriers to start allowing compatible 3rd party devices. And with the current administration, it would be very likely that Sprint (and every other carrier) would be forced to start activating compatible phones that aren’t branded by them. And if Sprint can’t dictate which device you use, they will have no way of dictating how you use it.

  15. Sprint Says No To 3G Phone Tethering | The BS Review

    […] via phonenews […]

  16. Jill Rabach

    This isn’t news… Everything Plans have not included tethering from their inception. Customers who wanted to tether needed to move to another plan. Other data plans included it at no charge, and some required an add-on plan. To get the whole interview with David Owens, go here:–1029;jsessionid=3A3053159A2B553607B4305B190C3306.app3jive1

  17. SaltyDawg

    I just read that entire chat, and this is the only part that mentions tethering at all

    G-189339073: Are there any plans to bring back a tethering add on to the everything data and simply everything plans

    David: not at this time.

    So I think this is a total non issue. I think the original source that phonenews cited ( jumped the gun here. All he was saying is they are not going to add a tethering add on option to the existing plans. He didn’t say, or even imply, that they will start crippling firmware or even take any action at all to block tethering.

  18. Jim

    Actually, if you read the comments on the Sprint site that gearlog points to (in the phonenews link previous post) you will find some sob stories (with which I empathize) and stink (with which I do not) about how Blackberry and other smartphone tethering stopped working recently and employee responses about plugging holes for services “they didn’t pay for” or were “expressly prohibited in the contract”.

    Personally this tethering issue in the US has been my pet peeve with wireless carriers. Tethering shouldn’t be a “feature” you should have to PAY extra for, although obviously the carriers disagree. Where you pipe your data should be your business and not that of the wireless providers. I do sincerely hope that the FCC DOES mandate that providers do NOT block such usage as part of their net neutrality initiatives. If not, interested parties should petition the FCC to do so, because I don’t think lawsuits, though threatened in those posts, will stand up in court.

    Thank GOD I am NOT a Sprint customer with this going on, nor do I expect to become one in the future unless these draconian policies change.

  19. Christopher Price

    SaltyDawg, that’s not the part of the transcript that entails this change. Sprint’s Marketing VPs have said that all future smartphones will require an Everything plan, and that they intend to block tethering because of that new requirement.

    It would be unlikely for Sprint to leave tethering enabled on Windows Mobile phones that (would then) require an Everything Plan.

    Hence, it does appear Sprint will disable tethering, in order to promote the combination of Simply Everything + Mobile Broadband, instead of PAM.

    In fact, with this change, the only way for a new customer to use PAM would be to purchase a non-smartphone on the Sprint Basic 200 plan, or on the Sprint Relay Data Only (SRDO) plan.

    Sprint is clearly trying to marginalize PAM, and I would not be surprised after this change, if PAM plan codes are removed in those two scenarios for new adds as well.

  20. Christopher Price

    Going a bit more into the logic, to be clear, we anticipated the possibility that Sprint would roll out PAM plans upon the deployment of Everything across all smartphones. Sprint is headed towards that point, we simply did not want to rule out the option for Sprint to then add PAM.

    Such a choice would have made sense; by holding out on PAM until the last minute, for Everything planholders, Sprint would have locked in as many aircard contracts as possible.

    However, Sprint’s intent is now quite clear; they don’t want PAM period. They want you to buy a mobile broadband card, and will force people that want PAM to stay grandfathered… or defect to another carrier… or hack their phones.

    On the flip side though, Sprint knows that it’s legal to hack your phone for tethering. Perhaps, they figure those that care about PAM, will get the hack anyways… why bother offering a PAM plan that few will be willing or interested in paying for?

  21. Leonel

    Hey everyone METROPCS has come back with their UNBEATABLE $100 for 4 lines ,u get CALLS, TEXT, PIX, VID, WEB, WALKIE-TALKIE,

  22. Brian

    Note, this says ban tethering on their “Everything Plan” The everything plan *already* says that “Everything” excludes using a phone as a modem. It sounds like they are simply going to enforce this already excluded activity.
    The “Everything plans” only include as much unlimited data as your phone itself can use, not what you can also use up on your laptop or home computer.

  23. JJ

    So sprint next year is also going to force all Windows Mobile phones onto an everything plan? To tell you the truth Verizon and their android phones are looking better every time. If I can’t tether and they are forcing every smartphone into an everything plan I would rather pay a little extra and get better coverage and better customer service.

    Also what if you currently have an everything plan and have a windows mobile phone and are currently hacking it to use tethering, how are they going to prevent you from doing this after next year? Like someone said before they can get the manufacturers to put a block on new phones but those phones that are out already they have no way of blocking those. I really hope the fcc and congress get moving on including cell phone companies under the net neutrality rule.
    I use the same amount of data wether im tethering or just using my phone.
    Sprint really wants to continue loosing customers. I understand they want to make money but if your going to be raising prices and making these kinds of changes then at least prove that your getting better. Both verizon and att gained over a million customers in the last months. Sprint on the other hand lost a couple million. This is just unbelievable.

  24. SaltyDawg

    This is looking more and more like a non issue to me.

    If Sprint starts crippling firmware in the future, anyone reading this should just come right back to this site. I’m sure the forums here will have instructions on how to fix it.

    Sprint already technically bans tethering on these plans. So at the very most this just means they plan to cripple firmware. If they cripple firmware, there will be patch files all over the place.It won’t be all that hard to get the missing/changed files out of some other Windows Mobile or Android device.

  25. JJ

    Yeah, Im thinking that too. Sprint has never allowed a PAM add on feature on everything plans and I know a lot of people who are currently tethering. I think sprint is just reiterating that they will never allow a pam plan to be added to the EP plans. Plus people always have a way around blocks put on handsets.
    Windows mobile phones have always been the easiest to tether on but I think now it is just as easy to tether on android phones if im not mistaken. If I know for a fact that I can tether without a problem on the hero then I am more willing to pay extra and get an everything plan. In the meantime I am more than happy to stick with my tethering capable,tv watching,music playing, full web browser touch diamond on a windows 6.5 custom rom.

  26. Don Louie

    JJ, you can add this to your BBB and FCC complaint. You have already made the decision to leave so this solidifies it. As fra as the Everything mandated for smartphones, I expected that to eventually happen but i still think for legacy and SERO holders an option to add the Pro Pack or not get the device would be a better route. F1, looks like the rep you talked to was partially right

  27. Leonel

    News flash, for u guys who are praising sprints smartphones, and 3g/4g, network.they dont have 4g yet, and hey i promise you, METROPCS the prepaid unlimited company will, Launch 4g, before sprint and Atnt will. VERIZON AND METROPCS ARE NECK AND NECK.

  28. Christopher Price

    Uh, Leonel, Sprint has already launched Sprint 4G WiMAX service in several markets.

  29. Christopher Price

    To clarify again, the catalyst for this change is the Everything plan.

    There is a change here, this is not simply a question of enforcement. That change is two-fold.

    One, Sprint will start requiring all new smartphones to be on an Everything plan. All you SERO plan holders out there can kiss goodbye those chances for a SERO-compatible Android phone, or a SERO-functional Touch HD or Touch Pro 3.

    Now, the other change that appears to be happening, which is less clear how, is that Sprint will be crippling future Windows Mobile phones to not allow tethering. We don’t know how far Sprint will go with that… it could just be big talk, or it could be cooperation with Microsoft to cook custom firmware. We don’t know that, and probably won’t until those new phones start to ship next year.

    Finally, this has a big impact on Sprint Basic 200 and SRDO customers. There will no longer be new smartphones that support PAM, even though both of these account types do support PAM. SRDO holders will likely get Sprint TV and Sprint Navigation for free, in place of PAM on these phones (as they do with Hero, Pre, and Instinct).

  30. i like dan hesse

    Win-Mo is going to go the way of VHS…Web-Os is where it’s at! WAIT… i own a blackberry…but either way…win-mo will be a dinosaur before this even happens!

  31. Candice

    As a sprint representative let me explain something. The PAM was never included in any of the simply everything or everything data plan. The assumption that it was was incorrect. Some were able to as you say “hack” in to have the capability. But, those are the customers that also call me wondering why their PAM was working for two years on the simply everything plan and suddenly stopped. As sprint adds new features onto their plans or goes through a plan “sweep” those that are using the service without the correct plan will lose it. That being said this is not a new thing, technically, it has always been this way, some were just getting away with it before the system caught up to them. Maybe it is a wrong move for sprint. But as was said earlier, just because the plan is an “everything” plan does not mean your unlimited internet is included for your computer. All of the unlimited services are for your device only. Those trying to use that jab at sprint saying that the plan is misleading are wrong. Providing your phone and computer with unlimited internet services is not included in this package. If you can get around that more power to you, however, if it stops suddenly, don’t be upset because you chose not to follow protocol….I’m just saying..and don’t call me upset

  32. Melocco

    But what about people like me that only use the phones internet connection to have access when I am away with no internet and don’t want to pay the $60 a month for internet on my computer for a few hours at a time. I only use it when I have no way to connect (at my aunts house etc.) Some sites I have to use for my job do not allow me to use mobile devices. I have talked to Sprint about this and see if there is a way to get a plan for only when I use the computer and they said my only option is the mifi or pcmcia card. I am with the others as far as stoping the service. I don’t think that there should be a way to stop it.

  33. F1

    About 18 months ago I had an interesting conversation with a techsavy Retention Manager, she had told me that SPRINT was going to get away of PAM altogether, her explanation was that the strain on the chips inside the phones causes overheating, hence causing an accelerated level of Cellphone deteriation, that is why, she explained they prefer selling the PCMCIA/USB devices, obviously this took place around the initial release of the Instinct as the first E.P. exclusive device.

    However, here is the interesting point about these new exclusive E.P. generation devices, which is their contradictory current claim, which is that these units are constantly on the Web, hence they consume much higher level of data, “that is why if you would sign up with a non E.P., i.e. like with the BB route, the Phone becomes slugish”!!

    The initial above explanation, goes directly against the second push into these new generation E.P. devices, in other words this is smelling more and more as a marketing hoax, another one trick pony of greed.

    Data is data, the 3G data quantity is already limited to 5GB by the self adopted and enforced industry, without any legal challenge by the consumers or any elements of the law, i.e. the FCC!

    I believe this is all part of the old strategy in preparation of the upcoming broad marketing of the SPRINT 4G, under whatever name. Just like when they introduced “Vision” with it’s new plans, followed by “Power Vision” followed by etc….
    SPRINT is desperately seeking to push for another “New Data” product to sell, the “E.P.” attempt by all accounts is more of a failure, at only arround 3 million accounts, of some 47 million remaining account.

    Perhaps for SPRINT, a universal 4G system would have been a better longterm strategy, but the cat on WIMAX is out of the bag now, only time will tell, weather this was another mistake a la “NEXTEL”, since the longterm growth of a company which is constantly shrinking, is vital to it’s survival.
    The “E.P.” policy is clearly counter productive, just in it’s nature by alienating it’s inaugural and legacy accounts of all types, the question is how long can SPRINT afford, biting the hand that is feeding it.

    Thank You

  34. Don Louie

    That wouldn’t happen to be the same rep who told you all new phones, dumb/smart/feature, would require Everything plans going forward?

  35. JJ

    All I know is that if I have to stick with one of the current smartphones to continue tethering, then I will do just that. I’m sure the next couple of WM phones will not be blocked from tethering. I think most of the new android phones are able to tether with a special app. So for now most smartphones will be able to tether so stock up on those phones. There is no difference between the data on your computer and data on your phone unless your downloading movies or something.

    Plus, didn’t Sprint say that the reason the hero and pre require everything plan is because they are more data intensive? (Which is a lie because they use the same data as any of the current smartphones on their lineup). If that is the case then I’ll just leave espn radio playing on my phone all night and then we’ll see what is more data intensive.

  36. F1

    @ Don Louis

    I doubt that very much, would be funny though!

    @ JJ et al…

    At this time tethering is the single most valuable feature to me, however keep in mind that with the advancement and minituarization of memory, nano technology, build in projectors, a la “Picolo” style.
    These changes are rapidly narrowing the differences between UMPC and Smartphones, to the point that very soon, there will be no need for tethering!

    I have had an 8.9 inch Asus 900 Netbook for the past 1,5 years, a 4 to 6 inch tablet screen will be here soon enough, why would I have to worry about having a fullsize computer, let alone tethering !

    1. 2 to 3 GHz CPU
    2. Bendable Circuitboard/AMOLED screen
    3. USB 3.0
    4. Dual slot MicroSDXC with up to 2TB
    5. Solar Skin constant recharging
    6. Built in micro projector
    7. 1 TB MicroSSD

    So don’t let it get to you, tethering is not a longterm product, at the most, max one more year to go, enjoy your access for now.
    4G will be the next stop for me to consider real changes!

    Thank You

  37. SaltyDawg

    When we start getting phones that run full versions of Windows, with enough power to run audio and video production/editing apps (such as Cubase and Adobe CS) then maybe we can start calling tethering obsolete.
    But just because a phone has a big screen and a 2-3 GHz CPU, it doesn’t mean it can do the things people need their computer to do (such as run Cubase or adobe CS).

  38. rlowell

    All I have to say is: I hope those new Android PDAs support BT-DUN.

    This whole thing about banning tethering is getting very tiresome…


  39. JJ

    Well, like some people said, it may not be that big of a deal. I think they are just saying that they are discontinuing the pam plans. I think its dumb because for $30 dollars at verizon you can use any phone on their lineup to tether no matter whan plan you have. No matter if you use your phone or computer you still have the 5gb cap so I don’t know what the big deal is. Either way I am able to tether now so I will take advantage of that while I can.
    What do you mean tethering will go only a year? What else can use for tethering that is convinient besides your cellphone? How does 4g change things? It just makes tethering even better. I’m having trouble unerstanding what you mean. Please explain.

  40. Christopher Price

    Well, actually Verizon offers BroadbandAccess Connect for $30 if you have a smartphone or nationwide connect plan, $15 if you have a special business plan, and $50/month if you have just a standard voice plan.

    Sprint will likely keep offering tethering plans. You’ll just need Sprint Basic 200, a business plan, or SRDO. And, a phone other than a smartphone.

    I think F1 is pointing to 4G in the sense that it will lift the 5 GB caps, and also make it cheap enough to have WiMAX in all your devices for an ad-hoc pricing model. Clear charges, essentially, $25/device to give them each a 7 mbps broadband connection. WiMAX phone pricing will likely average slightly below that, and open device portfolios will allow for phones to act as routers without any carrier control.

  41. F1


    Christopher Price, summed it up quite nicely, in addition as I explained earlier, the upcoming Hardware advancements will buying a secondary Computer, a unnecessary purchase, unlike Saltydawg,
    the typical average consumer, has no need for such sophisticated and specialized software, to run “audio and video production/editing apps (such as Cubase and Adobe CS)”, and many other intensive programms.

    Millions of inexpensive netbooks are becoming the primary and only computer hardware for average consumers, but PPC, W.M., Android, soon may be OS X iPhones/Tablets, if not already, will allow you to record audio/video/ create Spreadsheets/Powerpoint files,etc…
    By no means am I saying that there will be no need for “specialized” and “high end” Computers, it will just not be neccessary, to expose them to the Internet, period.
    Think security and privacy safety, as opposed to today’s exposure risks to your data files and hardware by malware.

    Tethering, currently is an equalizer of access to the “Information super highway”, as President Ronald Reagan used to call the Worl Wide Web/Internet.
    In other words freedom of access to information for all, is vital, and hindering “it”, will be “crossing the line”, they have to either sell access, or make it available for free, as you see the industry is trying to sell it, in any shape and form and at any price they want to.

    Hope that helped clarify my position.

    Thank You

  42. Duker

    Tethering will be allowed for business and government accounts. Consumer accounts will not be able to.

  43. F1

    Just spoke to Sprint, confirming need for E.P. for “Moment”.

    Thank You

  44. JJ

    Verizon announced that tethering will be allowed on their droid phones for only $15. You’d think Sprint would be the one offering this since they are the ones who seriously need to keep their current customers and gain new ones to stay afloat.

  45. Don Louie

    You all like when this article came out tethering stopped, this is a plan of action. When action is taken they wil still allow 3rd party apps that allow it

  46. RW

    I think it’s funny how everyone is dogging Sprint about this. Try going to Verizon and see if you get free tethering with your data plan because you don’t. Also ask iPhone users how good their tethering feature is.. oh wait.. tethering has been blocked on the iPhone since it’s initial release. Sprint has offered tethering to customers longer than any other carrier. If you read the fine print on the Everything Plans you will notice that it specifically stated that tethering was not a feature available with these plan. I love how crass people can be too. “I guess it’s not an Everything Plan then” Please, you get unlimited minutes, unlimited data from the handset and unlimited text. The people that are upset are people who were tethering without paying for it by using a hack they found on the net. People really need to grow up, because all of these “Everything Plans” with every wireless carrier exclude tethering, not just Sprint. Sprint just let people get away with it longer.

  47. syscrash

    My crackberry still tethers, courtesy of an app that is very easy to find. I would be willing to play sprint an additional 10.00 a month to just get this offically. I only use the tether for work purposes about three times a week. I’m not paying $60.00 a month for something I only use a few times a week. In fact if I put it into hours, I only use the tether for a total of 9 hours a week.

    On another note, I spoke to a rep the other day who told me that they can add tethering on data plans now? Is this true?

  48. tetherer

    postin right now 742 pm 11/4 sprint has fastest network to tether on. Iphones tether (not as fast as pre or hero though both can b toggled with a patch to 54mps. You just have to earn it as stated enough here NONE can stop 3rd party apps so start doin your homework and you would know that any phone can b tethered,ssh, telnet,pdanet, plenty of others just LOOK

  49. Mike

    I work for Sprint. Get your facts straight and read what the article says. They are only limiting PAM (phone as modem) on certain price plans. If you want it, you can still have it. “The ban will be placed on smart devices activated on the carrier’s current lineup of Everything plans”. Not all of Sprint’s plans are Simply Everything plans.

    As for 4G; Verizon is 1 year from launching their 1st 4G market, by then Sprint will already have 30+ markets fully launched, AT&T is years away from 4G. I have tested the U300 3G/4G card in a non-test environment (real world) and it was 1.5 up and 9.2 down. KILLING the competition’s aircard speeds. Thats broadband speed while cruising down the highway.

  50. DDB


    If you wish to do tethering or PAM or whatever you wanna call it, then you better choose to stay with Windows Mobile, no matter what version.

    There are applications out there (3rd party apps) that manipulates Windows to open a link between the Phone Internet Access and the USB connection. This has nothing to do with the internal chip on the phone, or Sprint plans, or anything like it.

    It is a very easy “hack” the tricks the phone into thinking that the Intern Explorer or any other Internet Browser (like Opera, or Skyfire or Java based browsers) is requesting Internet access. The phone then opens the internet connection.

    Once the internet is available for the application, it sends the signal using the USB to your computer and/or laptop. Simple. The phone will NEVER EVER see the program as tethering, it sees it as a local application using the internet, which at the end it is.

    The program uses Active Sync to establish the connection to your computer, and guess what, it works even on Windows 7. Of course, you need the program on both the Cell Phone and the computer.

    I have it, and it works just fine. Sprint has no clue I am browsing the internet with a computer. To them and to the phone, it is a local application, nothing else.

    Obviously, I will not say the name of the application, but they have developed it for blackberry and iPhone too already. It is NOT free, but the price is under $30 and is yours for life to use on as many phones and computers you want. Or just find a keygen and you don’t have to buy it.

    Welcome to the 21st century. You cannot police technology. Stop worrying about this, just do a research, find the correct application, install it, and be happy.