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Verizon Offers Free Tethering Because It Has To 180

jfruh writes "Most U.S. wireless carriers are trying to have it both ways on tethering or smartphones-as-hotspots — moving people from unlimited data plans to plans where they pay by the gigabyte, but then also charging them extra if they want to share the gigabytes they've paid for with other devices. But on Android phones on Verizon, at least, you can still tether, not because Verizon is trying to be more consumer friendly, but because, according to an FCC ruling, they agreed to allow it when they bought formerly public spectrum."
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Verizon Offers Free Tethering Because It Has To

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  • by CoolToe ( 2732573 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @12:54PM (#41375853)
    Tethering has worked from day one on Windows Phone devices.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @01:27PM (#41376325)

    Yes I know its Cnet, but it gives a good explanation of what is going on.

      What if I have an old Verizon unlimited data plan? Can I download an app and avoid the $20 tethering fee too?

    Unfortunately, the answer to this question is no. Verizon says that customers under the unlimited plan are required by the company's terms of service to pay an additional fee to tether their device.

    So you either keep the unlimited data plan and pay the fee or you switch the new plan and lose my unlimited data.

      Does this mean that Verizon will no longer charge for tethering?

    On June 28, Verizon introduced new wireless service plans that include tethering in the base price of the plan. So for new customers, they will not be charged extra to use their phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot.

    So again I am still being screwed,

  • by hazem ( 472289 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @02:33PM (#41377367) Journal

    Because they've oversold their network capacity and would be in real trouble if everyone actually used as much data and bandwidth as they paid for.

  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @02:52PM (#41377619)

    This caused consumers to pay for redundant towers everywhere which is one of the reasons why most of Europe has faster and cheaper cell service than the US.

    Actually Europe had slower cell service because the EU mandated GSM. GSM is a TDMA technology. In TDMA, the phones basically take turns talking with the tower. The tower divides each 1/20th of a sec into timeslices. Each phone gets one timeslice per 1/20th sec, regardless of whether or not it has anything to say. If I'm talking with my mom and there's a 10 second pause while she looks for something, my GSM phone still takes up all its timeslice of the tower's time, wasting the bandwidth. Same if I was using a data connection to browse the web and paused to read the slashdot comments I just downloaded. The phone was still connected to the tower, so it still got its timeslice, wasting the bandwidth.

    But the U.S. decided to take a hands-off approach and let the technologies compete. Half the carriers went with GSM, the other half went with CDMA. And when data services started to become important, CDMA completely wiped the floor with GSM. CDMA is based on orthogonal codes, like one person writing on a chalkboard horizontally while another writes on it rotated 90 degrees. They're overwriting each other, but because the letters have enough distinguishing marks, you can read what both have written. The key here is that CDMA doesn't waste bandwidth. As you approach capacity, the noise floor (from codes overwriting each other) increases until the error correction can't cope. But if someone has an active voice or data connection, but isn't saying or transmitting anything, then there's no noise added, and no bandwidth used.

    This is why the CDMA carriers rolled out 3G data service more than a year sooner than GSM carriers. CDMA won. There was simply no way for GSM technology to compete as a data service because it wasted so much bandwidth. GSM was forced to take an extra year to design completely new (non-TDMA) data protocols, and add a second radio to GSM phones for data (since the GSM voice radio was TDMA-only). Many if not most of the data protocols were based on CDMA or wideband CDMA, they just disguised the fact by adding it to the GSM standard. So even if you have a GSM phone, there's a good chance you used CDMA for data prior to 4G. (Incidentally, this is why you could talk and use data at the same time on GSM networks. It wasn't because GSM was better. It was because it was worse, and they were forced to add a second radio to GSM phones just for data. CDMA uses the same radio for voice and 3G data. The limitation is gone with 4G, since LTE requires a different radio than GSM voice or CDMA voice. Unless you do a stupid design like the iPhone.)

    So you can thank the U.S.' free-market approach and the CDMA carriers for the high-speed cellular data network speeds you enjoy today. If the entire world had standardized on GSM, it would've taken years longer for data speeds to reach what they are today because there would've been no competing high-speed data service to shame GSM into improving. (LTE is based on orthogonal frequencies [] - similar concept to CDMA except the orthogonality is in the frequencies used by each device instead of the coded signals. It requires more CPU cycles to untangle the different signals, CPU cycles which consumed too much power previously, but which is now within reach of a mobile device which has to last a day on battery.)

    As for your number of towers argument, the TDMA for GSM voice (yes, voice transmissions still use TDMA in GSM) artificially limits the range of the tower. For the phone to communicate with the tower during its timeslice, its signals traveling at the speed of light have to reach the tower before the majority of its timeslice is over. This artificially limits the range of a GSM tower to about 20 miles. If you want to cover

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