Verizon cracks down on illegal data tetherers

The days of free Internet are over.

That is, for users who have managed to circumvent Verizon’s mobile data tethering security. Instead of being able to bring up unlimited Internet pages on their laptop without paying for the service, users are now greeted with a Verizon website that overrides their connection, and greets them with the following message:

“If you would like to subscribe to Mobile Broadband Connect or 3G Mobile Hotspot, call” Verizon customer service.

At issue is the fact that Verizon’s most advanced 3G phones have the ability to transform into a virtual Wi-Fi hotspot, which users can then tap into on any Wi-Fi-enabled device. Instead of using a broadband or local hotspot connection, it connects via the phone’s mobile data capabilities.

However, to be able to use that feature, you’re supposed to sign up for it. Verizon charges users a monthly fee for the privilege. But some users have found a way to enable the mobile hotspot even though they’re not paying for it.

Apparently the jig is up and Verizon has found a way to figure out if someone is illegally tethering. The reason it never did this before was because it was assumed that Verizon had no concrete way of knowing whether or not someone was tethering the data.

The data usage would show up the same if users were watching a Youtube video on their phone, or if they were tethering their phone’s data and watching the Youtube video on their computer.

It looks like Verizon has actually managed to distinguish the two types of connections, though, so it’s a bit of unfortunate news for those who were able to get away with it for so long.