How does a carrier blocks an iOS feature?

Discussion in 'iPhone Tips, Help and Troubleshooting' started by lanturlu, Jan 25, 2011.

  1. lanturlu macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2006
    #1
    How does a carrier manages to make an iOS feature unavailable for it's customers unless they pay for it? Is it a factory setting on region specific iPhones? Is it that iOS is "polite" and checks if the carrier allows, for example, tethering before allowing you to switch it on? What's to prevent a greedy carrier to say: Ah, you want to use the phone's address book? It's gonna be another $10/month.

    I am curious as to what would happen for those of us that own an unsubsidized, factory unlocked phone bought directly from apple. Presumably, no carrier has been able to put its dirty hands on it to restrict what it can do. If we go to the US and start to roam data using our non-US sim card. Can we switch on internet tethering if our home provider allows us to do it at home? (considering that ATT charges $20/month for it)

    Or if one just get a prepaid US sim card with 3G data (if possible at all) with the same factory unlocked phone, what happens? And what if you move to the US with your phone and get a contract there, will they modify your phone when you activate the new sim? How do they check / enforce that?

    Sorry if this has been asked before, I didn't managed to find an answer with the keywords I used.
     
  2. seajay96 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2010
    #2
    I'm no technician, but my guess would be that certain features (like visual voicemail) are enabled/disabled through the SIM card...notably what your SIM account is permitted to do on the carrier bandwidth.

    In my example, visual voicemail is available on AT&T and Orange overseas, but if I go to another carrier with just 3G service, I won't get visual voicemail service, just a regular voicemail number that I have to call to get my messages.

    For things like tethering and wifi hotspot, I suspect it works much the same way.

    As for carriers being able to charge for access to basic functionality of the phone, I think that would be technically very difficult (if not impossible) to do and I suspect that Apple, in their search for the perfect user experience, would quickly remove their support from that carrier.
     
  3. lanturlu thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2006
    #3
    Thanks for the answer Seajay,

    I would argue that using the phone as a modem is a basic functionality, as the main reason I have an iPhone is to have portable internet, not make phone calls. I'm using the "internet" apps daily while the "phone" app get used only a few times per month.

    You are probably right about visual voicemail as a "provider must enable" option. I can't tell for sure as I'm really not sure what it does; my voicemail is turned off by choice. But if it is a special voicemail, support must come from the provider. But internet tethering, whether it's USB/BT tethering or WIFI hotspot has noting to do with the provider network. It's device based only.

    I agree that Apple must be the one agreeing on carrier "greed" like that and they would object to most of the other non-sense that they might try. Therefore, I imagine that iOS is checking, via the simcard, if the provider allows tethering and/or hotspots. Pity Apple caved in for that one... I'm glad I don't have to put up with US carriers!
     
  4. ulbador macrumors 68000

    ulbador

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2010
    #4
    I'm sure also that something like the tethering feature also "dials home" to check if it is still allowed.
     
  5. Rajani Isa macrumors 65816

    Rajani Isa

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2010
    #5
    Your phone is a phone, and a small portable computer, not a router/modem. Hotspot isn't a basic function of the phone like Calling, or even web browsing.

    Note, if someone is on limited data, I don't think that AT&T should charge, and I don't think it's right that not only will they charge, but add no data per month for the charge. Unlimited data - sorry, that's not what you signed up for.

    Visual voice mail is where the messages, etc are on your phone - it displays them in a list and you don't have to go through them in the order received, etc. Almost like checking your email. I like (Oh, it's so-and-so who already told me whats in the message - delete!).

    And what right does Apple have to dictate to AT&T (or any other carrier) how their network is used? Any function of the device which accesses AT&T's network has to have AT&T's permission otherwise they won't buy/sell the device. Funny how that works.

    Also why some apps get approved to work via Wifi only (and really, the reasons for using the iPhone to serve as a hotspot to a wifi network it's on are so limited, they are more than likely illegal.)
     
  6. lanturlu thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2006
    #6
    If iOS allows me to tether or hotspot, out of the box, it's a basic functionality, therefore it is also a modem/router. People will buy it for any single or all of the basic functions. That's why I bought the iPhone, so I could ditch my crappy USB 3G modem and get rid of a 2nd simcard used for data only. If it's a mod of the OS or a non-standard app, then maybe. Remember, it's a smartphone, not a plain phone, so 3G data is one of it's major feature.

    Indeed, I didn't sign up for anything, I bought the phone full price from Apple.ca and haven't signed any contract with any provider. The phone is unlocked and ready to be used on any GSM network, I just need to get a simcard. Prepaid airtime and prepaid data, only buying what I'll use. That's why I'm curious about how does a provider manage to block phone features. If I go visit a country for 1 month, buy a local, prepaid simcard with airtime and data, I would be quite annoyed if they don't allow me to use the data bundle I purchased the way I want, e.g. tethering it to my laptop when I feel like it.

    As far as unlimited data goes, they shouldn't call it unlimited if it's not. They should call it: "a truck load of data as long as you don't really use it that much." Calling it unlimited is misleading marketing. They should never have offered it since they obviously can't deliver.


    Following your logic and extrapolating to another field, one would have to ask permission from a cable company (and possibly pay more) so you could use your VCR/tivo to record TV shows for later viewing? Or if you intend to plug a nice set of speakers on your TV, you should pay the cable company more?

    The only thing I buy from a carrier is airtime + data. If I buy 2GB, I'll use my 2GB in the way I want. A carrier's job is to provide stable signal so it can deliver the bandwidth to it's customer, nothing more. It can't dictate how to use it, what phone I must use, etc. I'm sure you wouldn't want to be charged extra because you use your phone with a bluetooth headset, right? That is, after all, not a basic function, is it? If a company can't deliver what it sells, I'll go to another company. Maybe that's the problem in the US, not enough competition/choice.


    Wow... you should look up the term illegal. How about my wired internet is down (happens often here in Africa) and I still want to use internet on my laptop? Take phone, flip a switch, tethering on, bingo. 3G data is so much more stable and faster than typical ADSL home internet. 7.2mbps (or sometimes 3.6mbps) for 3G vs 384kbps for affordable ADSL. Yet, I can't facetime on my fast network! Well, now, I can skype on 3G, so it's not a problem anymore.

    Thanks for answering, but keep in mind that people will use their phones for different reasons. The majority of people where I live only get internet via cellular network. Landlines are expensive, ADSL is slow and most people just get 3G USB modems, even for their desktop. Different places, different peoples, different customs, different solutions :) Nothing illegal about that!
     
  7. Rajani Isa macrumors 65816

    Rajani Isa

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2010
    #7
    If that's how you feel, I can't change it. But personally I don't see that as a "basic" purpose of the device. I see it as a convenience offering - an ability that is possible with the hardware, but not it's main purpose. I guess my definition of "basic functionality" is what the manufacturer intends for the basic use to be, which I'd have to say in this case isn't a hotspot (although you now have that option.)


    I have no idea how that will work, can't help you there, I admit.

    I was referring mostly to those who have AT&T, unlimited data, and are upset they can't tether with it without a work-around.

    AT&T provided that plan with the idea the data was to be used just by the phone, not by a device (or your whole home network) tethered to the phone. The contract even says this, as I recall, and they didn't allow the native tethering to work until after they dropped the unlimited plan as an offering AND required one to drop the unlimited plan.
    Difference - the cable or satellite companies broadcast you that signal 24/7 (outside of outages). All you are doing is time shifting it - and that doesn't place any extra strain on their system - it does not increase or decrease the load if you do or don't watch or record the program.

    Now, again, I think for the not-unlimited plans, they shouldn't charge the extra fee, especially without extra data attached, but that's me.

    The only thing I buy from a carrier is airtime + data. If I buy 2GB, I'll use my 2GB in the way I want. A carrier's job is to provide stable signal so it can deliver the bandwidth to it's customer, nothing more. It can't dictate how to use it, what phone I must use, etc. I'm sure you wouldn't want to be charged extra because you use your phone with a bluetooth headset, right? That is, after all, not a basic function, is it? If a company can't deliver what it sells, I'll go to another company. Maybe that's the problem in the US, not enough competition/choice.




    Please read again what I wrote. You mis-understood me.

    I said the only reasons I can think of why you'd want to use an iPhone as a hotspot to a /wifi/ network would be illegal. Not 3G, edge, or any form of Cellular, but wifi. If you're using your phone as a hotspot to a wifi network, why not cut out the "middle man" and connect the other devices directly? (other than trying to hide the end machine, I can't think of any. And most reason to hide the end machine would probably violate one or more laws) I brought that up because in the past there have been apps allowed in the store that were not allowed to use 3G - it was more of a wandering point I guess. So your example :

    Wouldn't work against what I said, as, the wifi network it'd be re-broadcasting would be down (well, not connected to the internet).
     

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