- If you have a new Verizon "Share Everything" plan, you can use your phone's built-in mobile hotspot feature or a third-party tethering app free of charge -- but you're limited to the data in your Share Everything data pool. Overage rates for shared data plans are $15 per gigabyte.
- If you have an old usage-based data plan, you can now use a third-party tethering app free of charge. You can also use your phone's mobile hotspot feature for an additional $20 per month (per device), which also gets you an additional 2GB of data.
- If you have an old unlimited plan, you are technically required to pay $20 per month for tethering -- whether you're using a third-party app or your phone's mobile hotspot feature. However, Verizon has no way of knowing if you're using a third-party app to tether.
AT&T was not part of the FCC investigation that forced Verizon to allow third-party tethering apps on Android phones, so AT&T still charges for all tethering. Unlike Verizon, AT&T never blocked third-party tethering apps from its phones -- rather, it monitors its users' data habits, and sends them text messages and emails telling them that if they do not stop tethering for free they will be automatically signed up for an AT&T tethering plan.
Here's how much it costs to tether on AT&T:
- If you have a new AT&T Mobile Share plan, you can use your phone's built-in tethering app, as well as a third-party tethering app, for free -- but it will sap data from your shared data pool. Overage rates for shared data plans are $15 for each gigabyte of data you go over.
- If you have an older, usage-based data plan, you can use your phone's built-in tethering app, as well as third-party tethering apps, for an additional $20 a month per line, which will also give you an extra 2GB of data.
If you have a grandfathered-in unlimited data plan, tethering is not an option -- you'll have to upgrade to a (limited) tethered plan, or AT&T will upgrade you automatically if it suspects you're tethering.
Sprint is the only carrier that still has unlimited phone data plans. However, Sprint does not allow you to tether on your unlimited data plan. Instead, you're required to purchase a tethering option, which gives you a couple of gigabytes for tethering (though your phone will still have unlimited data).
Here are your options (or lack thereof) on Sprint:
- If you have an unlimited data plan (and you do, because Sprint requires all smartphones to be on an unlimited data plan), tethering will cost you $19.99 a month for 2GB of data and $49.99 a month for 6GB of data. This means you'll be able to use 2GB or 6GB of tethering data, but you'll still have unlimited data as long as you're just using your phone.
- If you have a usage-based data plan on your Sprint tablet, you can purchase the same options (2GB for $19.99 per month or 6GB for $49.99 per month) for tethering. In this case, tethering data is also separate -- it does not come out of your bucket of usage-based data.
- If you go over your 2GB or 6GB limit, you'll be charged an additional $0.05 per MB -- which equals a whopping $51.20 per additional gigabyte.
- Some people may have the old tethering option of 5GB for $29.99 per month, and they will be allowed to keep this until they change plans
T-Mobile will be introducing a new unlimited data plan in September. However, this unlimited plan will not support tethering. Instead, customers who want to tether their phones will have to use one of T-Mobile's existing value or classic plans.
Here's the breakdown of T-Mobile's tethering costs: