I was recently sent this article:
It basically talks about how text messaging fees have you paying $1,310 per megabyte of data. Which is true – texting fees were always ridiculous and somehow wireless carriers were able to capitalize on that.
Tethering is a little different. When you use tethering (a feature that was built into the iphone in 3.0 over a year ago: http://gizmodo.com/5171796/iphone-30-os-guide-everything-you-need-to-know) your phone acts as an internet connection relay/access point for your laptop. You’re using your data plan on your laptop instead of your phone.
Naturally a person would use more data on their laptop than on their phone as it’s more convenient to watch online videos, write emails, etc. on a laptop. In the past a carrier would charge extra for tethering since data plans were unlimited but more data usage is a higher load on a network that a carrier has to maintain and pay for. However, with data caps on all of AT&T’s plans, using more data than your plan covers already results in heavy fees ($10 for every 1GB overage in the 2GB plan).
So charging an extra $20 a month just to be able to tether is just AT&T saying “we own your asses.”
An excerpt from an interview with Mark Collins, senior VP of data and voice products at AT&T:
GigaOM: What about the $20 tethering fee? It looks like a convenience charge.
Collins: That capability is enabling something you can’t do today. You can use one device and get multiple connections so it’s more useful to you. You’re going to use more data so the price is based on the value that will be delivered.
Enabling something AT&T disabled last year. Using data which already increases in cost depending on how much you use.
Simple analogy: Imagine Apple introduced a feature in their older iPhones (original, 3g) that allowed them to record videos using the camera and email them to your friends. AT&T disabled that feature on the account that you will probably end up using more data with it since you will be emailing videos. However, they finally decided they are going to charge $20 per month for “enabling” it and because “you’re going to use more data.”