Why you can totally tether your Verizon Android phone for free

Verizon's hunger for spectrum space, and add-on fees, led instead to a flourishing unofficial tether and hotspot market.

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Just the kind of tethering apps Verizon was looking to strike down (and made stronger)

The Wi-Fi at CoworkBuffalo took a dive this afternoon, and I couldn’t work offline. So I connected my Samsung Galaxy Nexus to my ThinkPad, and away I went, using Verizon’s 4G network to power my day, to the tune of 1.6 gigabytes. And due to a court order, Verizon can’t really do that much about it.

Okay, sure, Verizon can throttle my connection after I use a certain amount, even on a grandfathered “unlimited” plan. But as for the phone-to-laptop connection sharing, or tethering? Verizon can’t do much at all. The Big Red carrier pushed hard on quirky tethering apps, the apps and users pushed back, and now Verizon has to simply suck it up whenever a savvy laptop owner wants to check their email in a spot with bad or non-existent Wi-Fi.

What happened was, nearly six months ago, Android phone owners searching the Play Store for apps that allow the use of cellular data through a USB cable (”tethering”) or over Wi-Fi (”mobile hotspot”) noticed that a whole bunch of apps were missing from the mix. Apps like EasyTether Lite and PdaNet were gone, or notified the would-be installer that the app wasn’t allowed on their particular network. Sites like Tested described the apparent joint decision by carriers, with Google’s permission, to block tethering apps. Verizon wasn’t the only carrier blocking tether apps, as all of the major US carriers charge anywhere from $20 to $40 to customers who want to activate their phones’ built-in hotspot or tethering features.

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