Mobile
Commentary
10/29/2009
04:59 PM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
Commentary
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Sprint: No More Tethering

Here's an interesting move. Today, a Sprint spokesperson said that moving forward it will not allow its smartphone customers to tether their devices to their laptops. You want mobile Internet on your laptop? Buy a Sprint dongle and data plan.

Here's an interesting move. Today, a Sprint spokesperson said that moving forward it will not allow its smartphone customers to tether their devices to their laptops. You want mobile Internet on your laptop? Buy a Sprint dongle and data plan.Sprint's David Owens shared a wide range of Sprint's future plans during an online chat hosted today. The bulk of the information covers Sprint's plans for future smartphone devices. The basic points are these:

  • Google Android OS updates are coming for the HTC Hero and Samsung Moment. While he didn't specify a version - 1.6 or 2.0 - HTC has previously confirmed that they're working on an Android 2.0 update for the Hero.
  • Combination CDMA/GSM Android phones are also "a possibility but nothing this year."
  • They're considering an Android phone with a built-in MiFi-type router.
  • Android phones will get less expensive "as we see volume across the industry."
  • Lots of HTC and BlackBerry phones coming next year. HTC phones "will be on the Android platform."
  • Sprint will "add Wi-Fi to [the BlackBerry] Tour" and have other Wi-Fi BlackBerries going forward.
  • They're testing Windows Mobile 6.5 updates for the HTC Touch Pro2 and other Windows phones; "plan for early 2010."
  • They want Windows Mobile 7.0 "as soon as possible, but dependent on Microsoft."
  • Expect WiMAX phones next year.
  • No tethering for phones that require Everything plans (such as all smartphones) from here on out.
Each of these points is worth discussion, but I am going to focus on the last one: no more tethering.

First, I'd like to say, "What the heck?"

Tethering allows users of smartphones to attach their device to a laptop and use it as a wireless modem. This means users -- and businesses -- can save a little bit of money each month. Most carriers charge a $15-$30 data premium above and beyond the normal smartphone data plan to enable tethering. Users can then avoid paying the typical $60 monthly data fees (for 5GB of data) that is often required with laptop modems. (Infrequent users can choose less costly plans.)

Sprint no longer wants its customer to have that option. If you want to surf the web on your Sprint smartphone and your laptop, you're going to have to pay for the two separate plans.

This is a major change in its policies that is going to affect the wallets of individuals and the bottom line of companies that equip their workforce with these tools. Were I a Sprint customer, I'd not be happy about this. Owens didn't say how long its current tethering customers will be allowed to do so. I assume they'll be grandfathered in at least until the end if their contracts.

What's scarier to ponder is, will the other carriers follow suit? I certainly hope not.

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