AT&T threatens Windows 10 Mobile user for tethering

A report from ArsTechnica indicates that AT&T sent a letter to one of its customers, one Evan Shapiro, insisting that he stop tethering and move to a plan that allows him to tether.

Shapiro data plan is grandfathered from one of AT&T’s old unlimited data plans. The plan’s policy doesn’t allow for tethering, and AT&T is now accusing Shapiro for defying its policy. There’s only one problem:

Shapiro doesn’t tether at all.

Image courtesy of Evan Shapiro

Image courtesy of Evan Shapiro

Shapiro, evidently using a Windows 10 Mobile build, showed this picture as proof that AT&T hasn’t enabled tethering on his plan, which renders AT&T’s claim incredibly suspect.

An AT&T spokesperson told ArsTechnica that its network saw five instances of tethering over the last two months, and made note that Shapiro was using an unreleased phone operating system: Windows 10 Mobile. The accused user has stated that his Lumia 1520 hasn’t been jailbroken or rooted, but that he, like the rest of us Windows 10 Mobile enthusiasts, excitedly got the OS through the legitimate Windows 10 Mobile insider program.

According to the spokesperson, AT&T is convinced the tethering may have been inadvertently induced by flawed, unpolished nature of the beta OS, citing that no carrier has been able to adequately test the unreleased OS. The spokesperson has not shared any details on how the wireless giant drew that conclusion.

Evan Shapiro

Evan Shapiro

AT&T’s letter reads more like a marketing pamphlet than a stern warning, showing off an assortment of its new data plans that it wants Shapiro to change to. Note closely the boldfaced statement toward the bottom of the letter. Essentially, AT&T is stating that it will force Shapiro onto one of the newer plans if his still uncorroborated behavior continues.

The accused man had a very hard time collecting clarity on the issue. Often, the AT&T representatives Shapiro spoke to pushed the blame onto the unfinished mobile operating system. Shapiro, however, insists that he had never even touched the tethering function of the phone until he received the letter.

Shapiro himself suspects these letters are a bullying tactic to get customers with grandfathered unlimited data plans to relinquish their plans and transfer to the newer plans more amenable to AT&T’s financial agenda. If true, it’s a quite a sneaky one, as AT&T isn’t actually providing any specific proof to make these accusations and ultimatums against its customers. What’s rather telling is that AT&T’s ultimatum isn’t to cut Shapiro’s service, or have him pay some sort of fine, but instead to switch him to another plan, ridding him of his grandfathered plan. I suspect Shapiro isn’t the only customer who’s being bullied this way.

It’s worth noting that AT&T hasn’t exactly been a boy scout with regards to how it treats its unlimited data plan customers. The company has been accused on several occasions for throttling the data plans after 5GB of usage, enough so that it faces a hefty $100 million fine from the FCC for its misleading practices. It is also being sued by the FTC on behalf of customers who were ripped off in this fashion.

Shapiro has been a devout AT&T customer for 20 years, going all the way back to the Cellular One days. However, this skirmish has left a very bitter taste in his mouth with his carrier of choice. Enough so that he’s contemplating switching carriers.

I might too if I were in his position.

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