AT&T asks users nicely not to tether… or else

AT&T would like you to know that they are relentless in their quest to redefine the term “unlimited.”

Perhaps you’ve signed on for a 2-year contract for your iPhone or smartphone, and are tethering using your “unlimited” data plan. Consumerist posted a friendly plea from the carrier to customers suspected of tethering their devices without paying an additional $20 a month on top of pricey unlimited data plans for the tethering privilege. According to the email, AT&T has noticed your tethering, and would like you to please stop it now. Oh, and call them by May 13th, or you’re out another $240 a year on your cellphone bill.

Full text of the email below. This isn’t the first time AT&T has complained that customers are using their unlimited service too liberally- is it time for AT&T to just find a new word for that particularly limited plan?

We’ve noticed your service plan may need updating.

Many AT&T customers use their smartphones as a broadband connection for other devices, like laptops, netbooks or other smartphones — a practice commonly known as tethering. Tethering can be an efficient way for our customers to enjoy the benefits of AT&T’s mobile broadband network and use more than one device to stay in touch with important people and information. To take advantage of this feature, we require that in addition to a data plan, you also have a tethering plan.

Our records show that you use this capability, but are not subscribed to our tethering plan.

If you would like to continue tethering, please log into your account online at, or call us at 1-866-679-7118 Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. CST or Saturday, 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. CST, by May 13, 2011 to sign up for DataPro 4GB for Smartphone Tethering….

If we don’t hear from you, we’ll plan to automatically enroll you into DataPro 4GB after May 13, 2011. The new plan – whether you sign up on your own or we automatically enroll you – will replace your current smartphone data plan, including if you are on an unlimited data plan.

If you discontinue tethering, no changes to your current plan will be required.