iPhone data and tethering can cost you only $15 per month
Paying less is always good, right? We're not going to complain about saving some extra cash during these tough economic times. Instead, we're going to reap all the rewards and benefits of what our iPhone 3GS can potentially do for us. So here's what you're going to need to get this to go through without a niche. First and foremost, you'll obviously need to get an iPhone – either buying it with a contract or dishing out some heavy dough for a full priced one. Second, you're going to have to snag yourself some sort of AT&T handset that isn't deemed as a smart phone – let's say something like an LG Xenon or Motorola RAZR. Third, a phone call to AT&T's customer care will be needed to get some information put into their system. Finally, downloading an APN changer on the iPhone, like the one found here will be essential to the completion of the procedure.
Searching through various web sites, there are people asking in many forums if the iPhone will work with AT&T's unlimited data plan for non-smart phones (formerly Media Net). Surprisingly, many users out there would simply remove their SIM, which has the $15 per month unlimited data plan associated with it, and insert it into a friends iPhone without any problems. They're able to place phone calls and even surf the web without any problems. If you're thinking that the monthly bill will reflect some new charges, you'll be shocked to find out that there was no difference. They were still charged for the $15 data plan and nothing else. So here's where we start on our quest to save money and enable tethering in four simple steps.
We started out by upgrading an eligible line to an iPhone with a two year contract; so we dished out the usual $199.99 for an iPhone 3GS in black. The sales representative we dealt with showed us our contract that displayed clearly the $30 per month data plan we would be charged in addition to our regular plan. By the time we left the store, our iPhone 3GS was activated and ready for use. So here comes the fun part; calling up AT&T customer care.
In order to get this successfully completed, we had a spare LG Vu on hand to get the “switch” done. Now here's the thing with AT&T, it keeps track of what features are associated with each device thanks to the IMEI of the handset. Thanks to SIM cards, users can freely place their SIM into other devices without the need to call up their carrier to get it active. Our only fear with a Verizon iPhone incarnation is that users will always need to provide the carrier the ESN (Electronic Serial Number) to have it activated on their network. Whereas AT&T customers, or any GSM based carrier, are able to freely transfer service to other devices by just placing their SIM card into the new handset. After briefly chatting with the customer service representative, we told them how we wanted to use another phone we got from a friend and be able to access the internet on it. Eventually they asked for the IMEI of the LG Vu, so we provided it to them and then informed them to place the $15 per month unlimited data plan. And we asked to verify that the $30 iPhone data plan was removed and no longer being charged for it. After that was complete, we went to our online account and filled with excitement to see that the LG Vu was now showing as our device. We're more than halfway through completing this process, we only had one more thing to complete before we could start rejoicing in our victory.
Powering on the iPhone, we were able to make voice calls without a hitch. Launching Safari, we were greeted to this message displaying “Could not activate cellular data network: You are not subscribed to a cellular data service.” Most people would probably scratch their heads and throw in the book – it seems as though AT&T would have the last laugh. So this is where this nifty APN Changer comes into play. For all those not familiar with it, the APN is a setting that instructs your handset how to access data services. So we connected to the closest Wi-Fi network in our vicinity and typed in “unlockit.co.nz” into the browser. It directs you to a web site that looks like a settings menu that can be found on the iPhone. There is an option to select a “custom APN” which then asks you if tethering is an option you want enabled. At this point, why not? We made it this far and we're intent on getting the full rewards out of our hardships. Finally there is an option to select a carrier – we were told to select US – Cingular. From there all the settings are in place and we were given the option to install the new APN Carrier Settings to our device. We did a quick restart of the iPhone and then waited to see if all our work paid off. We clicked on Safari and waited in anticipation to see if it all worked. Success! We triumphed and opened multiple web pages with the aid of 3G connectivity. We played around the internet tethering options under the “Network” settings and enabled it. Soon we were sharing the 3G speed via Bluetooth to our netbook. The greatest thing about it is that it was simple and did not require having the iPhone being jailbroken.
So let's recap our adventure in obtaining a cheaper data plan and getting tethering capabilities. The only feature we were missing was Visual Voicemail. The reason behind it is that the $30 per month iPhone data plan needs to be associated with the account in order to get it. So now we're forced to retrieve messages using the old fashion way. It's not a bummer in our books – especially when we'll be saving half as much money during the life of the contract. After we connected the iPhone to iTunes on our computer, we noticed after logging into our AT&T account online that it showed the iPhone as our device. We assume that iTunes registers the IMEI with the SIM card number to AT&T; so in their system it'll say you have an iPhone (which we do now). Interestingly enough, the $15 unlimited data plan was still valid despite it showing us having the iPhone 3GS. The reader who provided us the information goes on to say that they were still charged the same $15 data plan while using the iPhone for six months. They were even able to place their SIM into a Samsung BlackJack II and a BlackBerry Curve – all the while still paying the same $15 plan; not the usual $30 data plan. We've verified this ourselves and continue to pay only $15 plus our normal voice plan. We're now enjoying the huge savings and tethering it to our computer – all the while paying less and without any major reduction in functionality. Undoubtedly, we'd assume that the big suits over at AT&T would not be pleased about this. But we believe that sharing this information will empower consumers out there. So happy web surfing on the iPhone!