back to article Mobile operators mourn death of embedded 4G

Mobile operators are giddy at the prospect of doubling, tripling or quadrupling the number of devices connected to their networks over the coming years. Next generation portable devices such as tablets, laptops, cloudbooks and Ultrabooks are seen as candidates for 3G/4G integration that will help shore up the carrier position …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    3G tethering is nice

    but I'd like to see things made easier for GPS data linking so wifi tablets can use map applications.

    I'm pretty sure its possible, but it seems a bit haphazard.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 3G tethering is nice

      As with just about everything that the latest greatest smartphones harp on about, you could do it on the old Windows Mobile 6 devices. Back when WinMo was for productive people and not so design-centric.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I WANT

      something that I don't have to carry something else with to work. No faffing with pairing connecting or wiring.

      Also where I live and places I work I cannot guarantee WiFi connection.

      Hence I am waiting for the new iPad which is on order as the full fat version.

  2. Joe 35

    Presumably the the two paragraphs were thought to be so so good, it was felt necessary to repeat them?

    1. David Dawson

      I thought so. So here they are again!

      Mobile operators are giddy at the prospect of doubling, tripling or quadrupling the number of devices connected to their networks over the coming years. Next generation portable devices such as tablets, laptops, cloudbooks and Ultrabooks are seen as candidates for 3G/4G integration that will help shore up the carrier position now that handset penetration has hit the saturation ceiling. However, considering that these gadgets will be used overwhelmingly on Wi-Fi networks, it's difficult to justify integrating cellular functionality now that most consumers are walking around with a Wi-Fi hotspot in their pocket: their smartphone.

      According to industry analyst Chetan Sharma, about 90 per cent of tablets sold in the US towards the end of 2011 were Wi-Fi only. This is not surprising considering the ubiquity of Wi-Fi. And for the occasions when Wi-Fi isn't available, there's tethering.

      1. gcarter

        Re: I thought so. So here they are again!

        Tethering here in the uk on the three network is a joy.... I use the payngo plan.... every time I topup with £15 amongst other benefits I get unlimited / all-you-can-eat data transfers, which is perfect for tethering!

        On a side note, there is also the wonderful connectify application for windows 7 users

        Which allows you to share an existing wifi connection on your laptop to other devices, for example if your logged into a coffee shops wifi where you need an account, this can be shared with other devices without the need to share your login details.

        Again another reason why tables with their own 3g/4g built in will go the way of the dodo

        1. James 139

          Re: I thought so. So here they are again!

          Although, Three do expressly forbid tethering on anything other than their data only plans and when paying for the data add-on, but I think all the other networks do the same.

          Still strikes me as dumb, its my allowance, why shouldnt I use it as I want to.

          1. Gordon 10

            Re: I thought so. So here they are again!

            Not true.

            3 include tethering in all their prepay iPhone tariffs at the very least.

            1. Andrew Woodvine

              Re: I thought so. So here they are again!

              Page 28 of Three's price guide:

              "Want to tether?

              If you are on The One Plan contract (handset and SIM Only) we’re happy for you to tether, this means you can connect your phone to other devices via USB or WiFi to connect to the internet. If you’re not on The One Plan, you can get a Mobile Internet Add-on, or a Tethering Add-on."

              The One Plan is pay monthly only but on Pay As You Go you can get "all you can eat" data for £15 a month. I don't think the above term is clear, but they've clarified on their forum that all you can eat data on Pay As You Go excludes tethering.

          2. Dave Fox

            Re: I thought so. So here they are again!

            The One Plan on Three allows tethering with all you can eat data.

        2. a_been

          Re: I thought so. So here they are again!

          Wait, what? you can buy tables with 4G, fuck me, i need to get out more often!

    2. Lars Silver badge


      "Presumably the the two paragraphs were thought to be so so good, it was felt necessary to repeat them?"

      i need no Wi-Fi but I hate and hate and hate all cables and cables and cables.

  3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    The networks take on Tethering?

    To be stopped at all costs. Some of them are struggling enought as it is with the Data load. Adding a whole new dimension could sink some operators.

    Besides, they are more than happy enough to sell you a data plan that you never fully use. The existing network infrastucture can't cope as it is at peak times (00:00:01 on New Years Day). Investing in enough capacity to cater for the future load IMHO scares many of then witless.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Previously on Battlestar Marketica: Clothes now produced industrially. To be stopped at all costs!

      "To be stopped at all costs."

      I missed the sarcasm tags, so I gotta ask "by whom"?

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        By whom?

        By Verizon & T-Mobile, at least in the US. They block it, make it very expensive to purchase, put a tiny data cap on it, and if you get around your blocking and they find out about it, your connection stops working and they try to charge you the $350 ETF.

        I vastly regret buying my 4G Xoom. What a waste of money.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    a flat battery in their pockets?

    "most consumers are walking around with a Wi-Fi hotspot in their pocket: their smartphone."

    Won't their smartphones have flat batteries too, if they actually use the hotspot much? Or is that fixed now?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: a flat battery in their pockets?

      True it is a drain. Tether you phone to an iPad or other tablet remember to take you phone charger with you. Something else to carry around.

      I for one like it all in one.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        I plug my BB into my laptop using the USB cable: charges the battery and I get tethering as a modem, no wifi faffing involved.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: BlackBerry

          But you have to carry the cable?

    2. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: a flat battery in their pockets?

      I carry a battery pack charger for that. I don't think the problem can be fixed, because in tethering mode the wifi radio has to transmit at full power all the time, whereas if it is connecting to something else, it only has to transmit with enough power and no more for the access point to be able to pick it up, and then only when it needs to do something.

  5. Jemma


    Oh look, my HTC diamond and Nokia E7 can do tethering no problem.

    Although, and this is the interesting part.

    The tethering client in Windows Mobile 6.5.3 uses WEP encryption as standard.

    The tethering client in Symbian Belle (third party) only works without encrypt unless you pay extra... which makes it effectively utterly useless.

    Don't you just love the joys of progress?

    I haven't bought a phone without WiFi for years - its faster, more secure and takes less battery life than mobile data.

    Not to mention we've been being gouged for years over SMS and MMS messaging.

    Looks like we might be getting our own back finally.

    1. Andus McCoatover

      Re: Tethering...

      You're referring to Joikuspot, I guess.

      "...which makes it effectively utterly useless."

      So, not having security makes it utterly useless??? Sorry, I don't get your reasoning. Look, I didn't want to go around the school to give 'em passwords. I just announced at coffee-time to switch WiFi on, and look for "N8-00". Grief, just use the damn thing, M'kay? Only a couple of hours or so, no big deal. Cost me nothing (phone on charge entire time) as I'm on an "as much as you can eat" tariff. For about a fiver (€6 - $7) a month. Brilliant.

      1. Andus McCoatover

        A downvote?

        ....with no reasoning behind it?

        Well, that's just un-reason-able.

  6. Andus McCoatover

    I referred to this in 2 previous posts:

    1) When the city's free internet went down, I switched on "Joikuspot" on my N8, and everyone in the shool was happy.

    (@ Jemma - maybe I'm just altruistic...)

    2) This was the 'blocking patent' I wrote about which I couldn't be arsed to do, 'cos I'd have got the price of a decent Friday night out, for a couple of weekends work...

  7. JeffyPooh

    Battery drain vice data plan allowance

    Smartphone battery drain might be an issue on peaky high use days. But if your usage is more steady, you'd run out of data per day long before you'd run out of battery per day.

    YMMV. It depends on your usage pattern.

  8. Flash_Penguin

    Sorry, the death of embedded 4G has been exaggerated. IMO this is the difference between IPAD and android tablets, for business use, and why business people prefer IPAD over Android.

    (apart from the shiny brigade)

    Get 4G into an android tablet, I'll buy one, my boss will, and quite a few others I know. It's embarassing that more android tablets don't have it. People who need it WILL pay the premium.

    1. Chad H.


      Can you honestly say you get an extra $130 of value out of the device when you can simply tether.

      If I was running a business IT budget, I'd ask you why exactly im ponying up an extra $130 when the shiny smartphone I already paid for gives you that functionality.

      1. Lusty

        Re: But

        You can't justify $130 because your time isn't worth much. I'm billed at £1250 per day (and I'm pretty cheap) so that price difference is easily justified if I save a minute a day for a year.

    2. Chet Mannly

      "Get 4G into an android tablet, I'll buy one, my boss will, and quite a few others I know."

      Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 (or at least one model of it) has LTE radios and is for sale now. Works on 4G (LTE) in Australia.

  9. Fazal Majid

    Carriers use DPI to detect tethering

    At least in the US, carriers use Deep Packet Inspection (DPI), the telco euphemism for snooping on your data packets. The chief intent is to build a database of what websites you visit for marketing purposes, but they also look at the browser User-Agent string, for instance if they see the Firefox for Windows UA string on an Android no-tethering plan, they will send you a nastygram.

    If you use unofficial tethering, make sure you also use a VPN or limit yourselves to non-web use.

    1. frank ly

      Re: Carriers use DPI to detect tethering

      With Firefox, you can change the UA string to whatever you want (I'm sure). So, can anyone give some suggestions for what it could be changed to?

  10. Rob 5

    "Imagine if DSL service providers dictated which devices in your home, or how many, could use your residential broadband connection! "

    They certainly tried, in the UK, when broadband first hit the scene. As I recall, several ISPs (including cable ones) wanted you to pay extra to connect a router and tried to enforce the policy via MAC address registration.

    1. Eddy Ito

      Some are still trying

      Some still do here in the US. A family friend has had to jump through hoops in order to connect her work laptop from home. In the past six months I know she has resorted to a variety of things after two different brands of routers got kicked off by the carrier, including switching the connection and rebooting the modem and running both computers and "sharing" the connection. Finally we have her hooked up with an older atom powered PC running m0n0wall which seems to be working a treat... for now. Unfortunately for her there isn't a telco box near enough for DSL so she is stuck with the local cable monopoly or dialup.

  11. Dropper

    No Chance

    Unless carriers drastically reduce their data charges there's no way they'll convince more people to pay actual money to connect their tablets to the internet. About the only place you can't get free wifi these days is on the beach.. you can find WiFi hotspots pretty much anywhere you travel, including the top of mountains in Alaska or in the rain forests of Maui. Why pay $30+ / month for a pathetic 2GB data when the alternative is unlimited for free. Even the airlines offer better data packages than that.

  12. daz disley

    chr*st, doesn't anyone ...

    ... proof-read el-reg articles anymore ? ffs ...

    1. Flash_Penguin

      Re: chr*st, doesn't anyone ...

      Not even the article permalink it seems, I know it is a weekend article and therefore written JUST before beer o'clock on friday but still....

      (only jealous cos I'm in a dry place till Thursday)

  13. Christian Berger

    It's something Nokia found out 5 years ago

    Back then they introduced the Nokia N770 their Internet tablet. It didn't include a GSM/UMTS modem for several reasons:

    First you probably already have a mobile phone with Bluetooth, which can be used for dialup. Second, once you build a GSM/UMTS module into your device, marketing will believe it's a mobile phone. Mobile phones are mostly sold to operators, not to consumers. So your customers suddenly are large operators who want to place certain restrictions on you. For example they would prefer if no VPN software was available for the device, so they can sell their own expensive APN-based VPNs. And VoIP is of course a complete no-go for operators.

    So if you design a tablet today and it has an UMTS module, your marketing will ask you to remove all the things which make your device great, so they can sell it easier to network operators.

  14. Individual #6/42

    Depends upon definition

    I've been 'tethering' ever since I could connect my Psion 3c via IR to my old Ericsson T39 with had a contract for WAP. I've gradually moved on to laptop via DUN Bluetooth and then Wifi four or so years ago. It's only recently that operators have decided that this ought to be a separate income stream, ten years after they've been giving it away.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Depends upon definition

      Been at it about the same time - though my first connection was a null-modem serial link to the notebook. Fortunately, we now have micro-USB as standard. Cables are the way to go to reduce power draw. I currently use a mix of devices depending on where I am. PAYG dongles are often a good choice when travelling with a notebook as they tend to offer the best speeds earliest and you should share from the device with the biggest battery as tethering really eats power.

      PAYG is the way to go once you find you don't use a lot of mobile data anyway. I used to have € 5 (for 5 GB) a month on top of my contract for data but dropped it once I realised I only needed it about three times a year and the network kept on changing the details. Also not networks are equal so you might well want to have a different provider for the phone and something else for data. Kudos to 3 for pushing that and building out its data network.

      Has anyone challenged the T&C's about limiting tethering on a data contract? I'm not a network neutrality freak and I don't mind the networks throttling heavy use to make sure everyone gets a slice of the spectrum and I don't mind the restrictions on VoIP too much (it's a waste of bandwidth and they are obliged to provide telephony services as part of the licence and they have to pay for the infrastructure somehow) but I do object to pretending a website on a phone is intrinsicly different to one on a tablet or a notebook.

  15. Robin Szemeti

    The first two paragraphs

    were quite well written. However, they were not so well written that it was necessary to repeat them again as paragrpahs 3 and 4 .. a bit too quick with the copy/paste methinks?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You should read The Register...

    And save yourself writing half an article.

    And save yourself writing half an article. (joke)

    Tethering restrictions bypassed in html5 for Blackberry, Android and iPhone

  17. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Smart steganographic typo spills the beans and reveals covert phormation plans? ...

    For goodness sake, wake up and smell the coffee, you dunderheads.

    So what? You fixate and comment on an obvious mistake/absence of supercilious pedant oversight and complete miss the intelligence gem wrapped up in an enigmatic slip of plain pretext that would have even Freud reeling because of that which it tells, that informs you of the next generation manifestation of Stealthy Information Steal/Anonymous SMART Phishing Operation .... Intellectual Property Mine/MetaData Heist.

    To be a typo, or not to be a typo, that is the question ........... and do you not realise that (Settings-->Personal Hostpot-->ON) is not a typo and leaks and speaks the truth unto nations.

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