Here is what you need to know about EV-DO and tethering (for those of you in Rio Linda, that means to be able to use your phone as a modem). With some exceptions, Sprint considers any handset user who uses 500 MB or more of data tethering (there are some exceptions… PDA users generally are skipped for example). Until now, they have had no way to meter this other than raw data usage. However, EV-DO phones bring new concerns about tethering for the carrier that has been known for letting free tethering go under-the-radar.
After all, this was the company who even had their PR department slip up and admit just about everything above.
Sprint will formally allow EV-DO tethering. There may be dialer software return (something seen before the launch of Unlimited Vision), data cables will return even to stores. But, there’s a catch, the phone has a meter. All EV-DO phones will carry a built-in sensing ability for a PC modem connection. When you connect with a PC (or Mac, or Bluetooth DUN), the device will change its internal username.
Here’s the unnecessarily technical part…
Previously, Sprint has followed a practice of having a email@example.com being the catch-all username for a Vision account. This is known as the NAI, which we have covered previously. There is also ESN@hcm.sprintpcs.com which serves as the IOTA username for specific device identification. Got it? Good, if not, search. Tethering will use firstname.lastname@example.org as a new, third NAI. When the modem event occurs, the device changes the connection username automatically, and then bars access to ##DATA# so that it cannot be changed back (in theory, we haven’t tried yet, and we’re sure it will be blocked in firmware updates if such a hole is found).
Back to the non-technical…
Now, because the device can now identify that the device is tethering, and so can the network, it can prompt you to change plans (similar to adding Picture Mail to your account when attempting to send a picture). The good news is, the plans are not evil, they actually are pretty fair. It’s call the Fair & Flexible for Data plan, and it basically is Power Vision at $25/month with 40 MB of data, plus a $.001/KB charge that caps out at $70. You go over $70 worth of usage (70 MB) and you are not charged. This is $10 less than Sprint and Verizon’s aircard-only rates. The good news? Your handset usage will no longer be billed against your bucket for tethering.
So, EV-DO will change everything… almost. The PPC-6700 is the current sole exception, it still falls under old rules when it comes to tethering. This is because Sprint did not want to lose the PPC-6700 or invest added R&D time to add the system outlined above. Because of this, it will continue to tether with a standard (Power) Vision Pack.