# Will an unlocked phone give me hotspot if my carrier does not approve?

#### strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
5,694
I had a plan with AT&T, 20GB shared data on my 4 lines, which included hotspot. I just upgraded to their "lower level" unlimited data plan. The "top level" plan allows tethering/hotspot functionality of the phones. This "lower level" plan does not.

I believe/suspect that the hotspot limitation is imposed by the firmware in the phone put there by AT&T. I suspect that if I purchase an unlocked phone, I should be able to use its hotspot feature. I have found some dated info on the internet which confirms it, but it is several years old.

Can anyone confirm that if I go out and buy a brand new unlocked phone (ex: Samsung Galaxy S9) that I will be able to use hotspot?

#### bertus

Joined Apr 5, 2008
21,664
Hello,

It could be that they can detect that you are using a hotspot on the line.
It can happen that you can be cut off, as the plan does not allow the hotspot.

Bertus

#### wayneh

Joined Sep 9, 2010
17,153
It’s definitely a software issue and a brand new phone is not disabled from tethering. But I think your carrier will load in certain settings the very first time you attach to their network. This will immediately disable tethering unless/until you can reverse or bypass whatever they put there.

There are apps that enable tethering, but your carrier can tell if you’re using one of the well known ones and this might draw attention. A bit of cat and mouse.

#### WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
26,398
Another question to consider -- even if you CAN do it, SHOULD you do it?

You entered an agreement whereby you pay a lower fee in exchange for accepting more restrictions. You now immediately want to cheat on that agreement, indicating that you entered it in bad faith to begin with. Ask yourself if that is the kind of example you want to set for others -- be it kids, friends, colleagues, or your customers -- as being the kind of behavior you consider acceptable.

It might be helpful to put the shoe on the other foot. Let's say that you offered your customers various levels of service on whatever it is they get from you. Just making something up, perhaps you install an HVAC system and offer a higher-priced comprehensive service package that will replace, free of charge, any item that fails regardless of age or why, and a lower-priced package that will only replace items for free if they are defective and no more than ten years old.

How would you feel if one of your customers chose the lower priced plan and then immediately started asking around how to make it look like a part that failed due to misuse had failed due to a defect or how to modify the label on a twenty-year-old failed part to make it look like it was less than ten years old?

I just had a well pump replaced and they charged me $1650 for the motor/pump. I went on line that evening and found that same pump available online for between$600 and $900. I definitely felt gouged and I sent an e-mail to the company asking them why they charged so much in light of what I could find online. But I also explicitly stated that I was NOT asking for any kind of a refund because I had agreed to pay the price they charged (buyer beware and all that). I'm not sure what, if anything, I could have done differently to get a better price since when your water well fails you pretty much need to get it fixed ASAP (one day without running water drove that point home even though we have sufficient water on hand to meet our basic needs for about a week -- yes, we are definitely spoiled critters) and their total price was very much in line with what the other companies I talked to quoted. To try to identify a suitable pump and get it separately and have it installed would have required a lot of additional time on my part and almost certainly delayed the work by several days. As it turns out, the company responded claiming that they had made a mistake on the invoice (I don't think I buy that, but I'll let them save face) and were sending me a check for$300. I'll certainly take it.

It would be interesting to see what their reaction would have been had I been all outraged and demanded a refund -- it would be so useful to have access to parallel universes to test things kinds of things.

#### strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
5,694
Another question to consider -- even if you CAN do it, SHOULD you do it?

You entered an agreement whereby you pay a lower fee in exchange for accepting more restrictions. You now immediately want to cheat on that agreement, indicating that you entered it in bad faith to begin with. Ask yourself if that is the kind of example you want to set for others -- be it kids, friends, colleagues, or your customers -- as being the kind of behavior you consider acceptable.

It might be helpful to put the shoe on the other foot. Let's say that you offered your customers various levels of service on whatever it is they get from you. Just making something up, perhaps you install an HVAC system and offer a higher-priced comprehensive service package that will replace, free of charge, any item that fails regardless of age or why, and a lower-priced package that will only replace items for free if they are defective and no more than ten years old.

How would you feel if one of your customers chose the lower priced plan and then immediately started asking around how to make it look like a part that failed due to misuse had failed due to a defect or how to modify the label on a twenty-year-old failed part to make it look like it was less than ten years old?

I just had a well pump replaced and they charged me $1650 for the motor/pump. I went on line that evening and found that same pump available online for between$600 and $900. I definitely felt gouged and I sent an e-mail to the company asking them why they charged so much in light of what I could find online. But I also explicitly stated that I was NOT asking for any kind of a refund because I had agreed to pay the price they charged (buyer beware and all that). I'm not sure what, if anything, I could have done differently to get a better price since when your water well fails you pretty much need to get it fixed ASAP (one day without running water drove that point home even though we have sufficient water on hand to meet our basic needs for about a week -- yes, we are definitely spoiled critters) and their total price was very much in line with what the other companies I talked to quoted. To try to identify a suitable pump and get it separately and have it installed would have required a lot of additional time on my part and almost certainly delayed the work by several days. As it turns out, the company responded claiming that they had made a mistake on the invoice (I don't think I buy that, but I'll let them save face) and were sending me a check for$300. I'll certainly take it.

It would be interesting to see what their reaction would have been had I been all outraged and demanded a refund -- it would be so useful to have access to parallel universes to test things kinds of things.
Your analogy is a bit off. Let me fix it for you. I'm an A/C guy (I'm not) and all I stock are 50,000BTU air conditioners. I offer 2 packages; standard and deluxe.

For the deluxe package I install all 50,000btu components and size my ducts accordingly. I install a fully functional thermostat, allowing my customer to control temps over the full range intended by the manufacturer and take advantage of all 50,000 BTU.

For my standard customers I knock off 10% of the cost and I install all the same 50,000btu equipment and ducts, except for the thermostat. I install a broken thermostat, that I intentionally broke, which cripples the system and only allows my cusomer to achieve 30,000btu and their house stays about 78f all summer. Because I can.

My standard customer goes to Home Depot and buys his own Thermostat. Now he's taking advantage of everything that his system that he paid for (and then some) was designed to deliver. I lost my 10% extortion charge and there's nothing I can do about it.

But even that isn't exactly apples to apples, because AT&T is selling me a perpetual service, they have me over a barrel, and they can cancel my service for not paying their extortion fees.

I'm paying for my own phone and I'm paying for unlimited data. I intend to use my phone the way the manufacturer intended it to be used and I intend to utilize the unlimited data that I'm paying for, in whatever way I see fit. I'm not "hacking" anything, stealing anything I didn't pay for, falsifying any statements or being dishonest in any way. I'm merely "opting out" of the broken/crippled phone program that AT&T runs. I have zero moral qualms about it. I just want to make sure that before I drop $900 on a phone, that it will actually, technically, work. Hence why I came to technical forum, asking a technical question. #### WBahn Joined Mar 31, 2012 26,398 Feel free to rationalize your decision any way you want; that's your prerogative. The fact remains that you opted to sign up for a plan knowing that that plan does not allow the use of tethering and hot spots and you did so knowing that you had no intention of abiding by the terms you agreed to. That's the way I see it -- you certainly are under no obligation to agree. Just don't be surprised or upset when people rationalize any way they want to in order to get around abiding by the agreements they make with you. Thread Starter #### strantor Joined Oct 3, 2010 5,694 Feel free to rationalize your decision any way you want; that's your prerogative. The fact remains that you opted to sign up for a plan knowing that that plan does not allow the use of tethering and hot spots and you did so knowing that you had no intention of abiding by the terms you agreed to. That's the way I see it -- you certainly are under no obligation to agree. Just don't be surprised or upset when people rationalize any way they want to in order to get around abiding by the agreements they make with you. If you're going to appoint yourself as Ethics Police then you assume the responsibility of being impartial and examining all sides. Where is your judgement of AT&T? Do you have nothing to say about how they go out of their way to cripple the phones that they sell (at full price) without advertising that fact to their customers? You feel it's 100% ethical for them to sell an "unlimited" data plan that is in fact limited, and also sell the exact same plan, with some of their self-imposed limits lifted, at considerable markup? You have no problem with all the major carriers adulterating the free market by colluding when they should be competing, creating a giant oligopoly where the consumers have no choice but agree to these ridiculous terms? You're not concerned that AT&T bought and paid for all the laws that make their practices legal? Are you a Corporate Justice Warrior? Or are you trolling me with a shiny Sheriffs badge? #### Raymond Genovese Joined Mar 5, 2016 1,658 I have read both sides of this great moral dilemma and there is only one solution...cut the phone in half. #### WBahn Joined Mar 31, 2012 26,398 If you're going to appoint yourself as Ethics Police then you assume the responsibility of being impartial and examining all sides. Where is your judgement of AT&T? Do you have nothing to say about how they go out of their way to cripple the phones that they sell (at full price) without advertising that fact to their customers? You feel it's 100% ethical for them to sell an "unlimited" data plan that is in fact limited, and also sell the exact same plan, with some of their self-imposed limits lifted, at considerable markup? You have no problem with all the major carriers adulterating the free market by colluding when they should be competing, creating a giant oligopoly where the consumers have no choice but agree to these ridiculous terms? You're not concerned that AT&T bought and paid for all the laws that make their practices legal? Are you a Corporate Justice Warrior? Or are you trolling me with a shiny Sheriffs badge? More rationalizations. Gee, mom, it's unfair. Jimmy next door stole a$10 bag of candy and isn't getting punished but you're saying I'm wrong for stealing a $1 candy bar. Why does my opinion matter to you so much? My opinion of AT&T is completely and totally irrelevant in this regard as it is completely independent of the matter at hand; it is not THEIR word and the value of THEIR signature on a contract that YOU are showing to be of little to no value, even to yourself. And I am not appointing myself the Ethics Police -- that would entail having the power to enforce some standard of behavior. I can't and am not trying to. I've stated already that you are completely free to rationalize your actions to your heart's content and that you do NOT have any obligation to agree with my assessment of them at all. You've said already that you have no moral qualms entering into a contract with no intention of abiding by its terms. On this point I think we can both agree. So let's leave it there. #### Hypatia's Protege Joined Mar 1, 2015 3,226 all the major carriers adulterating the free market by colluding when they should be competing, creating a giant oligopoly where the consumers have no choice but agree to these ridiculous terms? ---Emphasis Added--- +1000! I hear ya! 'Big Telecom' is straight up slimy! -- 34 years 'post divestiture' and nothing's changed but the names... As I see it, their use usurpation of a public resource (CIP RF spectrum) obliges answerability to the public (as opposed to merely their stockholders) --- Keep fighting the good fight! Best regards HP Last edited: #### Hypatia's Protege Joined Mar 1, 2015 3,226 More rationalizations. Gee, mom, it's unfair. Jimmy next door stole a$10 bag of candy and isn't getting punished but you're saying I'm wrong for stealing a $1 candy bar. Yebut --keeping our analogies straight-- seems that$1 bar was stolen back from the bag jimmy stole from him!

Methinks, perhaps, we've an AT&T shareholder in our midst?

Best regards and TTFN
HP

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#### strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
5,694
Why does my opinion matter to you so much? My opinion of AT&T is completely and totally irrelevant in this regard as it is completely independent of the matter at hand;
You took time out of your life to lecture me on the "unethical" (your assertion, not mine) nature of breaking the terms (your assertion, not mine) of an unethical contract with an unethical company, so I conclude that your opinions do matter, at least to you. Just trying to keep you consistent. If this means enough to you to still be wasting your own time lecturing me, why don't you devote an equal share of time writing letters to AT&T about their questionable practices and to your congressman about why the government is accepting bribes from AT&T?

If you're not willing to chastise equally in both directions then you're just bullying the little guy.

#### JoeJester

Joined Apr 26, 2005
4,390
Take your phone, pull the Sim card. Your phone will word in any WiFi network.

I pulled the Sim chip on an old phone and use it exclusively for other tasks.

#### WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
26,398
You took time out of your life to lecture me on the "unethical" (your assertion, not mine) nature of breaking the terms (your assertion, not mine) of an unethical contract with an unethical company, so I conclude that your opinions do matter, at least to you. Just trying to keep you consistent. If this means enough to you to still be wasting your own time lecturing me, why don't you devote an equal share of time writing letters to AT&T about their questionable practices and to your congressman about why the government is accepting bribes from AT&T?

If you're not willing to chastise equally in both directions then you're just bullying the little guy.
Actually, go back and look and you will see that, up to this point, every use of the word fragment "ethic" has been by you with the single except of where I asserted that I was not appointing myself the Ethics Police.

It's interesting that you are now claiming that it is somehow my assertion that you intend to break the terms of your contract given that your initial post very explicitly stated that that was exactly what your entire goal was -- namely that your new contract does not allow tethering/hotspot functionality and you are trying to confirm whether getting an unlocked phone will let you use hotspot functionality despite that.

I made a single post responding to your initial post with an observation for your consideration on the off-chance that you hadn't looked at it from that perspective and that doing so might be of some value to you. You have every right to choose not to consider it. I don't know how more strongly I can make that point -- you have absolutely NO obligation to consider my observations AT ALL. If you are comfortable ignoring them, for whatever reason, whether you believe they are misguided, unfair, inapplicable, or just plain wrong, then by all means ignore them.

You still seem like you want my blessing for your own decision to demonstrate that a contract you sign isn't worth the paper it is written on. You're not going to get it. You certainly don't need it, and since you claim you have no moral qualms with that decision you shouldn't care one way or the other about it.

My opinion of AT&T is immaterial; it would come into play if and when I were to consider entering into a contract with AT&T. Given that I have chosen NOT to enter into any contracts with them and, in fact, terminated all of my direct relationships with them more than twenty years ago, up to and including their AT&T Universal credit card which had the best terms of any of my credit cards at the time -- and made it very clear to them WHY I was terminating my relationship with them -- I feel I am being more than consistent.

My approach is simply very different from yours -- you feel that it is okay to enter into a contract with someone with no intention of honoring it provided YOU decide that the other guy is "bad". I feel that it is better to not enter into a contract in the first place with someone that I decide is "bad", but that if I do that it is a reflection purely on MY honor if I then choose not even attempt to live up to the terms of the contract that I entered into. I simply believe that whether I honor my word reflects on MY honor and never on the honor of the other party -- their honor is judged separately based on THEIR actions.

There are plenty of people that would very forthrightly defend the position that stealing something from someone that stole it from someone else to begin with is perfectly acceptable, should not be punishable, and is even a form of justice. I can understand their position, I just can't agree with it.

Now, I am out of this discussion. You know how I feel and you know that I am not going to change my mind. I offered an observation for you to consider on the off-chance that you might find it useful. You clearly don't. That's fine. The only thing further discussion would involve is me repeatedly making the point that you are under no obligation to pay my observations any mind whatsoever, a point that I have already tried to make abundantly clear.

Do what you want -- that decision and all consequences are up to and on you.

#### strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
5,694
TL;DR
When did you become such a troll? I rememer when you first came here, I would look forward to reading your posts, even if they did test my attention span. That is gone now.

#### Aleph(0)

Joined Mar 14, 2015
597
I have read both sides of this great moral dilemma and there is only one solution...cut the phone in half.
Raymond Genovese ROFLMAO! So o/c _Solomon phones_ wouldn't work at all but advantage is AT&T could _vry generously_ knock like 5% off subscription fee!

Another question to consider -- even if you CAN do it, SHOULD you do it?
Wbahn Now I'm afraid to think on how you feel abt ppl who deliberately hold glass just partially under soda fountain stream to get more than their fair share of syrup to water ratio

#### wayneh

Joined Sep 9, 2010
17,153
The dilemma here is caused by ATT wanting so desperately to use the term “unlimited” for marketing purposes that they’re willing to apply it to a plan that clearly IS limited, although not by the amount of data per se. They can correctly argue that within their restricted usage rules (no tethering), the amount of data is indeed unlimited.

It’s all so silly. They should just charge for bandwidth usage within tiers and get out of the business of telling customers what they can and cannot do with the data.

#### tranzz4md

Joined Apr 10, 2015
310
I guess I wouldn't expect anything less if I we're to actually come across strantor attempting to get WBahn (and his well known administrative online personality) to back down a bit!

Of course the 90% agrees with your observations and feelings Stran, and my smile muscles are tiring, so...

Catch you on the next one!

#### Robin Mitchell

Joined Oct 25, 2009
819
I suspect they can detect tethering during unencrypted HTTP transmissions and HTTPS handshakes. When you connect to a website, you transmit your browser information and sometimes your current OS. All AT&T need is a simple text parser that blocks http transmissions that contain buzzwords in header packets such as "Windows", or "Mozilla", or "XP, Vista" etc.

#### Ian Rogers

Joined Dec 12, 2012
948
Although I don't like to, But I do agree with WBahn on this one...

"Unlimited data" is such a loose term... These guys still have the "Fair usage" policy... Once you override the tethering/hotspot ( if it were possible ) They cannot keep tabs on your "Unlimited data"... Thus your share would be unfair to others sharing said bandwidth!!

If it was just "Unlimited data" they wouldn't give a rats ass how you used it!! Its all about fair.. Assigning you endless data will cost the extra!!

I also do agree that these companies are a bit dubious when charging for data... BUT!! we should read the small print!! They are ALWAYS covered..