Verizon Stops Illegal Tethering, Follows AT&T

Verizon today began blocking customers from tethering their data through jailbroken apps, following in AT&T’s footsteps as the company fights to stay on top of the U.S. wireless market.

The Basking Ridge, N.J.-based carrier now requires users have a hotspot-capable data plan if they want to tether data from their smartphones to other devices. Users who try to tether through jailbreak apps like MyWi will be redirected to a Verizon webpage where they can upgrade to a capable plan for an additional $20 a month.

The carrier’s move to stop illegal data tetherers comes just days after AT&T made a similar move. AT&T now automatically puts jailbroken tetherers onto its cheapest data tethering plan at $45 a month.

For consumers, Verizon’s move shows carriers are taking their new data plans seriously. With carriers throttling unlimited data speeds to counter those who use too much data, and illegal tetherers now forced onto more expensive plans, wireless companies are changing the data landscape.

Verizon is still the number-one wireless carrier in the U.S., but AT&T’s pending merger with T-Mobile is threatening to change that. A successful merger would leave AT&T with an improved network and 20 million more subscribers than Verizon, its closest competitor.

In February, Verizon began carrying the iPhone, eroding AT&T’s iPhone exclusivity. In July, the carrier removed its unlimited data plan option and replaced it with more expensive tiered plans, a move AT&T made more than a year ago. Now, Verizon has once again followed AT&T with its decision to crackdown on jailbroken tetherers.

By following AT&T’s footsteps, Verizon may now be expressing a new more conservative mindset, as it mimics AT&T’s moves rather than setting the tone.

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