Verizon Blocks Hotspot Tethering for Jailbroken Devices

It appears that Verizon is starting to block hotspot tethering for consumers using jailbroken devices without data plans. A ReadWriteWeb employee using a jailbroken tethered Verizon Motorola X without a data plan was sent to this page outlining Verizon’s hotspot data plans today when trying to access a hotspot. This is a new development, since the employee used her jailbroken device as a hotspot two days ago.

The move from Verizon comes the day after AT&T started moving jailbroken hotspot users without data plans involuntarily to tiered data plans. Verizon hotspot plans start at $20 for 2 GB of data when added to a data plan of $29.99 or more. Every GB after the 2 GB threshold is an additional $20. The move corresponds with U.S. carriers closing loopholes in their pricing structures to maximize revenue from data as voice and text messaging revenue decreases.

In March, an advocacy group sent a complaint to the Federal Communications Commission that argued Verizon should not be allowed to block tethering applications using Long Term Evolution (Verizon’s “4G”) found in the Android Market. Google followed up by blocking tethering applications in the market, though users could still acquire tethering apps from outside app store like GetJar.

The timing of Verizon’s move to block jailbroken tethering access is worth noting. Coming in the wake of AT&T’s move yesterday and taking effect on a Friday (if not within the last two days), it shows that the operator does not want the news to make a big splash. Reports surfaced Friday morning that AT&T would begin throttling the bandwidth of heavy users and only later confirmed their plans with a press release late in the afternoon, EST.

Moves like this should not take consumers by surprise. The networks do not like consumers getting away with data for free. Any loophole that consumers can be use to get around data plans or additional services (like the extra charge for tethering) will be closed and the operators will point users to their pages highlighting data rates.

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