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Tethering: How your phone connects and facts and myths about it debate...

Discussion in 'Android General Discussions' started by Mojo, Apr 24, 2010.

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  1. Mojo
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    Mojo New Member

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    I do not want to argue with people in this thread. I am really hoping the most techie of the techies reply with "smart" thoughtful answers based on facts.

    So the great debate on many sites goes will you get caught and billed or canceled if you get tethering. The general concession seems to be that, yes, if caught this could happen. As many will warn about it. And to a point I do not dispute that in fact this could happen. Unlikely but possible I guess... Many point to the "Verizon Terms of Service Agreement" as a point of reference. But I rarely see some one post where it says this in the agreement. I have searched through mine and cannot find where it talks specifically about this.

    So to establish the violation could some one please post this in this thread? I will continue to look but if some one knows where they are please throw it up.

    Next, from my understanding based on what I have seen in (a) setting up tethering on various devices and (b) what I have seen as working as in a VZW store using their EROES system. (keep in mind there is different levels of access so I can only see what I was authorized to see).

    Connecting via tethering connects to the network in a different way per say then connecting using your device browser. Correct? yes no?
    I assume it does. There is a way to see the difference in "data" usage and "tethered" usage in EROES. But if I tether my droid via WiFi tether it does not show anything under tethered usage. Only data usage. If I tether my wifes BlackBerry Storm via VZAccess Manager. Her tethered usage shows under tethered usage.

    Can anyone explain how your phone connects to the networks data/internet? How does it connect when using my android browser? When I use the old method of setting up my device as a modem where it dials into #777 verses using a program like PDAnet to tether, do they "connect" in a different way? What are these differences? How is this connection seen on the "network"?

    When using wireless tether is that changing the way my device is connecting to the network? How is my device connecting then sharing that connection? What is being registered on the network?

    To prove and be billed for the usage there has to be some sort of separation of the usage, right? My plan is Unlimited so if I use 3 gigs or 10 gigs of service I should be covered as long as I don't tether, so if I did tether they have to show and separate what was tethered and what was not so I may be billed correctly for the charges, right? That separation would have to come by how the device is identifying how your device is connecting to the network correct?

    I think if some or all of my questions can be answered we can put this debate to rest. And prove that you should be pretty safe to tether.
  2. Mojo
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    Mojo New Member

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    oh and something else I have yet to see proof of... Does anyone have a letter of cancellation from Verizon, a bill for unauthorized tethered usage overage or anything to prove of someone actually being canceled or billed for this? I don't care about eye witness accounts and stuff of this happing to someone or someones mothers brother that saw his friends wife that was told her cousins babys daddy had this happen to them. I mean real, tangible proof. :)
  3. jimnutt
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    jimnutt New Member

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    At least on the Windows mobile phones there were two network ids, one used for phone based data and one for phone as modem, ie tethering. That assumed you used Verizon's software to do the tethering and it connected with the appropriate network id. However, Android doesn't work that way (PDANet may, but I doubt it). Basically it's more accurate when tethering on Android to say you're using your phone as a router, not as a modem. All the internet traffic comes and goes through the phone's ip address and any devices connected to the phone are hidden behind NAT (Network Address Translation) and a firewall. So, there might be a way to detect routing based on traffic analysis, etc, but I doubt it would be cost effective. And looking for flash sites or even desktop web sites isn't effective, as the Android browser does a fine job with regular desktop sites and we'll be getting flash within the next 3-6 months.
  4. Mojo
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    Mojo New Member

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    Thank you! Very informative.
  5. Mojo
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    Mojo New Member

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    So basically using WiFi tethering you are not changing the connection type... and making it very hard or at least at a cost effective way to create a separation of "tethering usage" vs "data usage"

    Anyone else got imput??
  6. Yodes
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    Yodes New Member

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    From what I've learned from a VZW employee friend is that with certain devices (Droid included) they can't tell a difference. He said that doesn't mean they can't find you though. Amount of data used is a big part. He said they recently caught someone tethering who was downloading a lot of movies. That's a lit of data. so when they saw his numbers they probed further and that's what they found.

    He said if you're just doing browsing and stuff though he wouldn't worry about it. Take that for what its worth.

    Sent from my Droid using Tapatalk
  7. aminaked
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    aminaked New Member

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  8. jsh1120
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    jsh1120 New Member

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    Folks, it doesn't matter. Verizon doesn't have to have evidence that you are tethering your phone. They only need to decide that you aren't watching 40 movies a month on your phone. If they decide you are "abusing" the network, they are legally protected if they decide to charge you for the use. Period.
  9. aminaked
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    aminaked New Member

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    You said that in the other thread so let me repeat this:

    Where do you get your information? The way you're describing it, if I rack up a lot of traffic I'll get pegged as a tetherer, even if I'm using the device as intended, say to view hi quality movies. Can that be right?

    The way some people are describing it, VZ informs customers that they KNOW tethering is taking place. I think they might just be analyzing the data of heavy bandwidth users. I'm just speculating, but these things make me think that tethering software that encrypts and proxies may be the future.
  10. jroc
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    jroc Well-Known Member

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    ***I am not claiming to be a 'techie', I just read alot....lol***

    Ok. Mikej touched on it right here in the other thread. If anyone knows a lil something about BitTorrent, u might have heard some words like traffic shaping, throttling. Ur ISP lowers ur internet download and/or upload speed based on some things. I dont know what those things are, but ppl have gotten letters from their ISP's about a specific file they downloaded and was warned about doing it again. A few even posted the letters.

    Some ppl have gotten sued for what they downloaded. Its been in the news. Well u might say 'but thats ISP's'!!! One thing we gotta remember, Verizon can be labeled an ISP because of FIOS and DSL. If Comcast and RCN (in my area, they are major traffic shapers/throttlers) can see what I'm doing dont think Verizon cant either. All it will take is for Verizon to have a pow wow with Comcast and RCN about their traffic shaping equipment.....last I heard Comcast was using something called Sandvine.

    The FCC has been in Comcast face for a few years now because of this tho. The whole 'Net Neutrality" issue, traffic shaping is part of it.

    Now, if u already have Internet service from Verizon, they might cant tell if you are tethering. Im guessing tho. I mean if an ISP can see a specific file you downloaded, cant they also see the device/hardware you are using? aminaked, u mentioned encryption. From what I read, if its strong enuff that should help.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2010
  11. Phoxus
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    As an Internet SERVICE provider. Verizon uses other companies like Cellnet and a few others that are the actual broadcasting ISPs. They would have to contact their sister communications site to see what they visited. Internet service providers cannot tell whether or not you're actually Tethering using a program. Due to the fact they don't have OS control on your actual phone/PC. They have your search history, download history, and visit history. They also can see what USER-Agent was used to visit those web pages. However thankfully the android operating system can view websites as other USER-Agents (xScope for example) and isn't considered a useful tool on seeing if they're tethering.

    Long story short, You're perfectly safe as long as you don't (excuse my language) Rape their Internet by torrenting/etc.
  12. aminaked
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    aminaked New Member

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    No, if I use my droid to tether and download a bunch of flash files, avis, netflix streams, java applets, etc. that the droid doesn't support then they'll have a pretty good idea that I'm tethering. User agent isn't the only thing to give you away. The question is do they currently track down tetherers, not whether they can. They can unless you're tethering software uses encryption and a proxy.
  13. jroc
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    jroc Well-Known Member

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    And someone asked about the ToS from Verizon:

    Customer Agreement

    And further down under 'Waivers and Limitations of Liability' is where it talks about small claims courts and stuff. I think tethering can be found out if they want to.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2010
  14. daroids
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    daroids New Member

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    So, the facts about tethering are that it's possible on android and you can do it without providers immediately trying to shut you down (or at least for some of us). The myths mentioned here are many and mostly describe verizon's or other providers' right to enforce their contracts if users attempt to tether their phones.

    How much time/data can I download before my provider shuts me down or starts charging me more? Or is it special kinds of data that triggers their attention? Does anyone really know?

    Even if someone has actual numbers on these thresholds, it seems to be completely possible to mask tethering usage such that you're undetectable. Wouldn't this be what most apps would want to focus on?
  15. Mojo
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    Mojo New Member

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    Thanks for posting this up.
  16. mkzbdroid
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    mkzbdroid New Member

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    I still say FAT CHANCE, I could see verizon just pushing lots of overages rather than terminating, you know big red doesnt wanna pass up a penny!!!

    and correct me if im wrong but didnt google and Verizon both promote android as an OPEN platform? Class action false advertising? that would be cool :)


    so lame we pay all this money for no rights what so ever!!! what ever happened to you break it you buy it, I like that policy much better
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2010
  17. jroc
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  18. Mojo
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  19. Mojo
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    Mojo New Member

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    I have highlighted the relevant information in bold and the part that specifically says we cannot tether in red.

    So now we have real tangible proof that it is in fact against the VZW TOS agreement to tether. Now with that said, we now need to find proof of when using Tethering like WiFi tethering how they can show what is tethered usage vs. normal data usage on the device its self. Because to bill us for tethering usage they have to show that we did in fact tether.
  20. Dave12308
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    Dave12308 New Member

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    Interesting. It specifically says "wireless modems". Since the Android tethering apps don't use the device as a "wireless modem" and rather as a "wireless router" i'd be willing to bet one could argue this in court if they knew what they were doing.
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