Another one for the "Only in the US" file
By Ian GRAYSON
Deep down we love our cousins from across the pond. Heck, they've given us everything from Mickey Mouse to little red Corvettes. But every so often, something they do makes you scratch your head in wonder.
Today's entry in this category is mobile phone tethering charges. These monthly fees are a nifty method, dreamed up by US-based mobile carriers, to charge customers for using data allowances that they've already paid for. It's genius!
Say you're on a plan that gives you 5 gigabytes of data usage on your mobile phone each month. So far, so good. You can access the internet, check email, use office apps and stream media.
But then let's say you want to use the mobile hotspot capability included in a growing number of handsets to allow your notebook or tablet to access the internet using your phone's data quota. Not so fast bozo!
The carrier will sting you an extra monthly fee to do this, despite the fact that you're still only using the data quota that's already in your plan. Go figure. If Australian carriers tried to pull a similar trick they'd be run out of town.
Last week Google won a battle against Verizon when the US Federal Communications Commission ruled the carrier could no longer charge an extra tethering fee.
It will be interesting to see whether this pushes other carriers into dropping their own tethering charges.
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