FeaturesGood and EVO

Sprint blocks free tether applications from the Android Market

Tether goneI flashed a ROM yesterday on my HTC EVO 3D, decided I wanted to check out the new Wireless Tether for Root in case I ever needed it (I never do since everyone has WiFi these days), searched for it in the Android Market app, and discovered that it was gone. Confused, I went to my computer, searched for it, and bam, there it was.

I looked at my phone and make sure I had spelled it correctly. I did. So I figured there must be something up with the mobile app. I clicked install on my computer and then noticed my device was grayed out. Maybe the Market thinks I have it installed?

But when I put my mouse over it, I got "This item not available on your carrier." I checked Barnacle Wifi Tether and got similar results (I also have a Verizon device in house; it was blocked from the first but not the second).

It appears that Sprint has decided to enforce the fact that their Unlimited Data Plan has major limits; these being you are limited in what you can run on your phone, what you can see in the Android Market, and how you choose to use your data . . . unless of course you pay for Sprint's Slightly Less Limited Unlimited Plan and purchase their $30 a month tether application.

I'm actually fairly angry about this. I do not want to use the Sprint Hotspot if I ever have to use WiFi tethering, but that's not the ending annoyance of this and I realize that Sprint never offered an unlimited plan, just an "Unlimited" plan with limits. How soon before Sprint decides you can't download RDIO or even know that it exists and makes you use a custom branded Sprint application and rent storage space on Sprint servers so data is not going off-network? Or that Google Maps is interfering with profits from Sprint's branded GPS navigation?

What about when they decide that all "unsavory" apps are blocked (like AT&T – America's most hated network did) – with "unsavory" including apps that are very large and might have an impact on the network if they were downloaded over the air (say Contract Killers: Zombies, which downloaded 350+ megs of game data).

I'm not happy with this, Sprint.

It's not just that you're blocking these apps from being installed, you've got Google hiding the fact that they exist to people on your network. We now have a whole set of hidden programs we can't see from our phones, and although I respect that it's your right to run your network as you see fit, I didn't sign up for censorship, and the word "Unlimited" has never meant "with all these carrier-imposed limits that actually make our service just like what we advertise our competitior's service is" and has never included blocking me from seeing what exists and what my phone has the potential for – that's not anywhere in your 13-page agreement.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

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43 thoughts on “Sprint blocks free tether applications from the Android Market

  • Avatar of Product F(RED)

    +1. If it’s not unlimited to begin with, they shouldn’t advertise it as unlimited. Honestly, Sprint’s 3G and 4G speeds have been nothing but garbage since this past January, and I’m a Sprint employee saying this. It’s not even some random town in the middle of the country. I’m talking about NYC (as well as other areas around the country). They really need to get their act together. This may or may not have to do with the iPhone’s arrival but lately I’m not happy with what Sprint’s doing.

    I called Sprint about the Epic 4G Touch’s LOS (Loss of Service) issue and the technician told me the fix is to “BUY AN iPHONE NEXT TIME IF YOU KNOW THAT ANDROID PHONES ARE LIKE THAT”. What kind of BS is that?

  • Avatar of Product F(RED)

    Oh just a head’s up, I’m a technician in a Sprint store. But I called up because there’s only so much troubleshooting I can do before I have to ask if there’s any update coming out.

  • It’s called install a non-market version (i.e. allow installation from “unknown sources”)??? Find the apk, it is hosted on google’s site.

  • I agree 100% with what you said. I live in the DC/MD area and my EVO 3D can barely hold a 3G signal. Takes forever to pull up web pages and forget about streaming videos.
    The quality of service has definitely went downhill.

  • This consternation about how Sprint is using the term “unlimited” is amusing. Even absent the tethering issue, it’s obvious that unlimited has boundaries. If I started trying to download 100’s of gigabytes worth of data via my phone I’m sure Sprint would have some objection to that. As for tethering, the Sprint service agreement is clear that those uses are prohibited without using a specific plan. To quote from the T & C; “Our data services may not be used…(vi) for an activity that connects any device to Personal Computers (including without limitation, laptops), or other equipment for the purpose of transmitting wireless data over the network (unless customer is using a plan designated for such usage);”

    Seeing that tethering is specifically prohibited in the T & C what business sense would it make to then provide you access to software that will allow you to circumvent those terms? If I, as a shop owner, install sensor tags on my goods but then also provide each customer with a shielded bag that allows them to defeat my sensors, would that make sense? Of course not. Besides, if any informed root user wants access to tethering tools there are hundreds of other outlets besides the Android Market. Sprint knows this. They haven’t taken steps to get these tools removed from the other venues. They just don’t provide you with access to them via their own venue. Who can argue with that?

    I can understand you not agreeing with the policy, but to get angry about it?

  • I’m sorry but you can’t blame a company for trying to actually stop people from accessing a paid service for free. It’s an insane fee at $30 so maybe if they lowered it to a reasonable price like 10-15 dollars then they would have more customers legitimately paying for it. Otherwise find an apk as there are always ways around these “strategic moves”.

  • well while that sux most if not all custom roms come with somekind of hacked or free tether app already but does this mean that if we use the free tether they’ll start billing us for it?

  • good point, however allow me my anger at Sprint for adding yet another hurdle, and getting Google to hide a developer’s work from how many people on Sprint?

    Also note that when I signed up the tethering clause was not in my contract and was actively listed as a feature of my EVO 4G phone.

  • by the wording of the contract using the free tether is grounds for termination. So, probably they won’t charge you, just disconnect your services.

  • Guys, come on, have you forgotten that the Android Market isn’t the only place to download apps? Google “wifi tether android” and download it straight from Github; the Wifi Tether in the Market is outdated and doesn’t work for our EVOs anyway. The most recent version is always available at Github

  • Oh, I don’t care so much that the wifi tether is not downloadable from the market. If I wanted it it’s one more hop away to get it. Removing something like that from the market is an insult to our intelligence more than a hurdle.

    But it’s the first steps on the path that AT&T went “oh, you’re not going to get to see that”

  • this seriously isn’t about where one can find WiFi tether, there’s even a link 3 posts in.

  • Avatar of PookiePrancer

    Reason I occasionally use such apps is that, for the little time I use them, $30 would be a ripoff. Then throw in the FACT that Sprint’s signal to the phone itself sucks already (never mind trying to tether their crummy signal), and the $30 ripoff becomes theft on Sprint’s part.
    If they unilaterally cancel my contract because I might tether for all of 100mb (on a heavy month), then fine! I already have a fall-back plan that’s cheaper, faster, and more reliable.

  • That’s a Samsung issue with the radios that has nothing to do with Android.

  • Also, how long before that page is not able to be displayed via a Sprint connection?

    Not an issue if you have a computer and a different internet connection, but still… the path to Apple is one step like this at a time.

  • This is the death by a thousand paper cuts approach. One by one they will be changing things. Once the new LTE gets rolled out and data can be racked up insanely fast, we’ll start to see some plans like Verizon.

  • Avatar of Product F(RED)

    I know that, but that aside. Sprint’s service has been garbage. I’ve been through an Evo 4G, Nexus S 4G, Evo 3D, and Galaxy S II and the data speeds on all of them are horrible.

  • been noting that too – I barely use the 3g/4g mobile network (why would I? I’ve got WiFi/internet connection at 15 times the speed of 4G in this town)

    Friend of mine gave me a link to several hundred people complaining about Sprint over on Reddit, I ran a quick speed test and noted my speeds were roughly 1/4th of what they had been about a year ago.

  • The Android Market is not Sprint’s store. It is Google’s. So with the same analogy, it’s like if you told your product supplier that they can’t sell shielded bags to people through other stores if that person also shops at your store.

  • Avatar of atlanta


  • Here’s the deal. Sprint is all buttsore because HTC opened the bootloader so everyone with an Evo3d can root allowing access to tethering apps. I’m rooted with no “CIQ” which is Sprints backdoor spy program to see what is on your phone and what your doing. Root your phone and load another Rom, problem solved.

  • Avatar of Chris

    Its not really an insult. It just isn’t logical. If a person is smart enough to root a phone then probably smart enough to be able to find a Apk on the Internet and install it.

  • Avatar of Clark Bent

    I’ve been telling friends from the inception of the EVO 4G that Sprint needs to allow the extra $10 fee to go towards what the customer wants i.e. 4g, LTE or tethering (w/or /wo wires) I’m amazed a class action suit hasn’t been filed since sprint has yet, in most areas, started to provided the accelerated service in a reasonable timeframe. I still don’t have 4g in my area, and if I hadn’t retuned my EVO it would have been nearly two years of paying for a phantom service.Now I have the 3D and I’m hearing LTE rollout will begin by 2012……..but to which market?, or should I say, when will it reach my market since I’m paying for the service. They have some audacity clamping down on people who they are ripping off.

  • Avatar of overclock

    They blocked PDANet, EasyTether, all of the free tethering apps. BUT, EasyTether is still available from Amazon’s AppStore. Although Sprint previously said they weren’t going to block PDANet, looks like they changed their minds. Oh well.

  • Doesn’t matter since the data network has gone to crap and 4g is less spotty than a ginger’s freckles.

  • Avatar of gticlay

    So, how long until someone writes an app that downloads useless random data while we aren’t using our phones and connected to power, just to EFF with Sprint? I’d download that app in a “sprint” second. :evil:

  • Avatar of Stormer


    >>>download 100’s of gigabytes worth of data via my phone I’m sure Sprint would have some objection to that.

    Ironically, they may not mind, because their speed would be so slow you would have to be a customer 10 years to download 100’s of gigs of data. ;-)

  • Avatar of SuperUser

    I actually bought the 29.99 wireless tethering service thinking that if I was legit that my speeds would still be decent passed the invisible 5 gig limit (before they imposed the 5gb tether cap). Heh.. I was wrong about that. Their stock tethering app is garbage.. It produced weak inconsistent wifi signals. The wireless tether app always produced strong consistent signals.

    That’s sad when a free rooted service out performs a paid $30 service and does it sooo much better!

    That was a wasted 29.99.. NEVER AGAIN

  • Avatar of ZUUL42

    It’s nice to know that Sprint is actively motivating people to flash custom AOSP ROMs. Thanks Sprint.

    (Not that a tether is worth much with their continually degrading 3G service and 4G service that is non-existent in this entire state (NM).)

  • Avatar of usnret04

    After having my Evo 3D when it first came out and paying the $10 fee, I was finally in an area this week that actually had 4G. I tried it out, really didn’t see much of a difference (it was a short test due to time restraints). That was some expensive 4G access, since now I’m back home where there is no 4G.

  • Ever try going to Olive Garden with a group of people and just trying having one person order the endless soup, salad and bread sticks and then allow everyone to eat. Maybe try going to an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet doing the same. Think the business will just let it slide.

    People are trying to do this with sprint. Trying to roll it off as well its not the same thing. If your believing that data transfer is not the same as tangible items like food your wrong. They have a network to support. New hardware for the servers more cell towers, upgrading places to 4G it all has to come from their profits. If they don’t try things like this to limit this kind of bleeding of their services then they are going to have to change their plan or hike their prices like their competition. If that happens we all loose.

    I agree though that the $30 tether plan is a bit high. It also doesn’t seem to compare to some tether apps which is appalling as its a reoccurring monthly fee. I would hate to seem them try and take additional steps to try and enforce their rights to protect their services. Other steps could easily be like AT&T blocked side loading. That would be a way to stop people from further loading on apk files outside the market. They could possibly go further and make it so any phone accessing their network with out their backdoor software doesn’t get any service. I doubt they would go that drastic but the bottom line here is if there were less people hacking and pirating companies wouldn’t waste the time, effort and money doing these things that urk people.

    Sorry for the rant, I mean no offense to anyone…carry on.

  • All you can eat, unless of course you want to eat whats on the buffet, or more than an anorexic

    Sent from my HTC smartphone on the Now Network from Sprint!

  • Avatar of XpAcErX

    as soon as they switch to lte.

  • Avatar of yuletide7

    I’m using PDANet right now and it works fine as long as you select charge only option and not USB tether.

  • Both Easy Tether and PDANET work on my EVO 4G and I just got Easy Tether from the marketplace 15 minutes ago and am on it now.

  • I think what Sprint is doing is really robbing your money!!
    a few months ago i tried INTERNATIONAL TEXT MESSAGING.



  • Avatar of Gregory Dearth

    Hide? Why is this such a big deal for you? So you cannot see applications that you cannot install on your phone when viewing the market from your phone. Use your laptop to shop for apps and you can see everything and it shows you quite clearly if your various android devices are compatible or not. Maybe you could use a special plugin on your browser on you phone (I think dolphin does this) to hide your device type so you could view as a desktop. Not sure if that would circumvent this tech that prevents you from downloading prohibited (by contract) or incompatible software, but you could try.

    I work in insurance, so I am familiar with the error that people make in not reading contracts (insurance policies are contracts too). But it seems that being angry because google set up their site to be legal or prevent downloads that ultimately won’t even work on your device is not just smart, it is necessary.

    With that said, sprint stinks. I had 5 bars at home when I bought my phone a year ago and now my Motorola Photon 4G goes to sleep because the signal is so low or non existent. I had to download an app to refresh my phone’s radio (usually brings me back to 3 or 4 bars). I have never used 4G as I cannot find 4G anywhere. Fredericksburg, VA

    Of course, my phone is still superior to an iPhone. Gaming is awesome on it. Web browsing takes 2 or 3 different browsers to get anything done as some services only want Firefox, some services need other features that Firefox doesn’t have, and some services only load well in a very simple html browsing environment (.gov sites) and otherwise load with a crap load of misalligned and screwey graphical errors.

    Still, without tethering I have been fine. Even in our hick town we have wifi in starbucks, target stores, and most restaraunts.

  • TypePad HTML Email
    I don’t know, I think if you don’t see why it’s a big deal you’re not going to see.I have read my contract, I also read what they advertise constantly – these are two different things. They edit the world so that users can’t see these things exist for people on other carriers rather than just enforcing an easily-enforceable contract point. When you change what people can and can’t see, you treat them as brain dead criminals. Using a wireless tether app on the Sprint network is a contract violation, people who want to can flash their EVOs to other carriers that allow this, but guess what, the devices are still blocked in the market because the phones are listed as Sprint phones.Besides the programs being blocked, the developers are getting threatened. Not sure if you saw the ClockWorkMOD Tether debacle, but pressure was put on Google to punish the developers, and letters went out stating that as their programs were designed to circumvent two of the (54?) carrier’s policies.I do not use wireless tether, I don’t use torrent clients, nor do I use much bandwidth on the Sprint network. But if you give them the right to start censoring what you can see on the market, where you can visit on the web (which they did) pretty soon they’re going to block access to sites that let you read what they’re not letting you know about.You allow the block at the market, then why not block the http://code.google.com/p/android-wifi-tether/ address where you can download it from outside of the market? Agree with blocking both of those, then block sites that link to it because letting your users know that such a nifty application exists is obviously tempting them to use it and is providing links to download it.  Obviously sitesThey didn’t just block the free tether apps, they removed all traces of them on the market if you’re on Sprint (or VZW). Imagine you’re a developer and have created a product that competes with Sprint or Verizon… let’s imagine something different than tethering, which Sprint will charge you $35 a month for regardless of how little data you actually use (fine with paying per gig, but really, I need to use it for an hour and it’s $35). Let’s say you’re competing with Verizion’s music manager, same functionality as Rhapsody, lower price point. And Verizon says you’re abusing the network by streaming music through it and removes your product from being shown claiming it’s network abuse even though you’re using a better codec and significantly less data OTA then VZW. You’ve just been cut off from even being seen in the Market. Cut out of competition..Now obviously, there’s a difference here in that the “abuse” comes from an outside point to inside in the VZW example above and it comes from inside to outside in the Tethering example, and perhaps you think it’s completely the carrier’s prerogative to charge over $400 a year for a service that may not use more than a megabyte of data a month for.I don’t even really have a problem with them putting a carrier notification on these things that it’s a violation of your contract to use them. I abhor them making Google say they don’t exist when you search in the market, which is how it’s set up now. Search for Wireless Tether for Root and you get no results that are Wireless Tether for Root.As for using a special plugin to see the hidden items in the market, yeah, you can see them, you can’t install them to your phone though. As it stands right now, ClockworkMOD tether is visible (after a public fight), along with several items you have to purchase. Wireless Tether for Root and a couple of others have been blocked… so it’s not even consistent what they’re blocking, or at least they’ve cut back on the blocking.Sprint has the right to block me from downloading this product, they have the right to stop me from using this product, they do not have the right to tell me this product does not exist, which is what they’ve caused the market to do.

  • For those of you looking for faster data speeds on your Evo devices. I was a sprint tech for 3 years and still do some work for them from time to time. If your device is rooted, you can bypass sprints proxy servers and your data speeds increase about 5x. Also I have achieved wifi tether on my rooted Evo 3D.

    If you have any questions feel free to email me at [email protected]


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