When Google packed USB and WiFi tethering capabilities into Android 2.2 earlier this year, phone companies had to decide whether to allow customers to actually use the service to share a data connection between their phone and a laptop or other computer. While some companies simply started charging for access to tethering capabilities, T-Mobile let users do it for free (on top of their regular monthly bills). That’s about to change.
T-Mobile already offers unlimited 3G data plans, so you won’t get any extra data for your money… although the company does throttle your connection speed once you go over 5GB of data transfers during your billing period.
What the $14.99 per month will get you is the ability to use your phone as a 3G modem by connecting it to your computer with a USB cable or enabling a WiFi hotspot feature and connecting other devices over WiFi.
Of course, if you don’t feel like spending $14.99 per month on the service, you can always just root your Android phone and install a third party tethering app which won’t let T-Mobile track when you’re tethered or not — so the company won’t know if you’re consuming data on your phone or your computer.
It’s not entirely clear from the press release when the new WiFi tethering fee will take effect, but the last we’d heard it would begin on November 3rd.