Tethering troubles for smartphone users

The latest story comes via Techblog, detailing the UK phone provider O2’s plan to charge iPhone users making “unauthorized” tethering use of the device (i.e. using the iPhone as a fancy, expensive USB cellular data interface). It turns out that AT&T has a similar policy in place, except authorized tethering is not available for purchase yet for AT&T customers.

A commenter on the Techblog post raises a very valid point: iPhone users–in fact, most likely all smartphone users, including non-iPhones and those on providers besides AT&T–already pay a significant amount for data service, and says an extra tethering fee is “double-dipping” on AT&T’s part. I think the serious laptop-based data network users will wind up buying an actual data interface device and that most see tethering as an emergency backup.

The notion that Apple or AT&T would want to restrict the freedom of its users yet again is disheartening, but unfortunately expected; there is nothing really prohibiting AT&T–or any other carrier–from doing what they are doing.