Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Optus iPhone Tethering Rip-off

I used to use my Nokia N73 as a modem for accessing the internet, which wasn't bad, as I didn't do it too often, so the speed was OK and it would work all over the place, like at the snow and on holidays. Quite handy.

Since getting a 2G iPhone, I sacrificed a lot of functionality for form and usability. Here in Australia, it is GPRS only, and doesn't support access the internet from a laptop, so I bought an off-contract Three 3G Modem to use for my laptop when away from home. It costs me $15/month for 1GB of data and I'm lucky if I use half that in a month.

Now that IPhone OS3.0 supports tethering (accessing the internet from your computer via your phone), I'm thinking of upgrading from the old (but tough and sexy, brushed aluminium!) 2G iPhone to a new iPhone 3GS, so I'm looking around at what the carriers offer.

Optus has updated their pricing plans, to cater for iPhone OS 3.0's tethering capability. The ways that mobile phone carriers come up with to screw customers for new features that cost them nothing staggers me.

If you want to tether your laptop to your phone on Optus (the only carrier that says it supports it), it costs you $9.99. That's $9.99 for something your phone does anyway to use your included data that you've already paid for! They do waive this if you pay more then $9.99 for extra data, but seriously!

So, Note that if you have a normal 3G Mobile, Like a Nokia N73, that can be used as a modem, Optus cannot tell you are using it as such and have no way to stop you, thus no way to charge you for the privilege of using your data as you see fit. Apple have bowed to AT&T (whose network presumably can't support everyone using 3G data services as hard as laptops could) and put in a carrier override feature on the iPhone tethering capability, which Optus are using to blatant money-making effect. I can only recommend jailbreaking your phone and using PDANet (among others, very easy to use!) to circumvent this, but these solutions require you to connect via WiFi, addng load to your battery.

All carriers have or will have iPhones. Only Optus has announced it's iPhone 3GS pricing, but I put together a table of carriers data charges. Note that until last week, Optus' excess data was $2048/GB!

Included Data
Extra Data
100MB ($19cap) - 700MB ($79cap) - 3GB ($129 timeless)
1GB (5GB on $100cap)
1GB (2GB on $114 unlimited)
0GB (based on current plans)
?? $2048/GB ??
Some of the excess charges are hard to find on the carriers sites, so if the links don't make it obvious it applies to your plan, call them to check (especially for Virgin!)
Three will have the iPhone 3GS in July, but I'm basing their rates on their current plans.

Note also, that you should check out coverage (Three is in capitals only). I read that Optus are extending their 7.6MB coverage countrywide, but anecdotal reports have their speed and 3G coverage being less than exemplary. And i's not known if the iPhones frequencies of 850/2100 support Optus' 7.6MB network, which seems to be a dual-band 900/2100MHz network.

From talking to friends with 3G iPhones, I don't understand why they have these problems with 3G and calls dropping out. I never had problems with my N73, it seemed to go from 3G to 2G seamlessly, is this some problem with the iPhone's chipset or software integration? Hopefully the 3GS sorts some of this out, as it may have new chips, with the 7.6MB support.

There's no doubt the new iPhone will give me some sort of tethering ability, but there is also no doubt that there are better phones than the iPhone to do this. All things are a considered trade-off, but in this case I think I'll choose form and usability over function.

1 comment:

  1. For Three, you probably want to use their iSIM plan as the basis: http://is.gd/1bXGN