Carrier T-mobile sees "desktop" user-agent settings in a mobile browser as tethering. Grrr.

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by iolinux333, Feb 16, 2014.

  1. iolinux333 macrumors 68000

    Feb 9, 2014
    I spent 2 hours on T-mobile's tech support line and the folks over in India don't seem to be able to comprehend this issue. T-mobile eventually transferred me to Apple (?!?) who said it was T-mobile's problem and I should talk to them. I'm kind of at a loss as to where to go with this now.

    Phone: Iphone 5s 7.0.4
    Browser: Mercury Browser
    Plan: Tmobile unlimited data $30/month without the $15/month hotspot option


    Mercury Browser is by far my favorite browser, it blows Safari away right now, though maybe Safari will improve with 7.1.

    Mercury allows changing the "user agent" in settings, to for example "IE 8" or "Firefox 23" which is really nice because then almost all web sites will send me the regular version of their page, rather than a typically brain dead mobile version.

    The problem is that T-mobile's system is picking this up as Tethering/Hotspot usage and now I keep getting directed to T-mobile's web page telling me to pay $15 for the tethering option. I didn't notice this before because the system waits for 100Mb of tethering usage before directing to that page. If I switch back to a "mobile" user agent, everything works again but then I'm stuck viewing braindead mobile web sites.

    Just changing the user agent in a mobile browser is NOT tethering so T-mobile's system needs to come up with a better way of detecting tethering usage.

    I emailed the Mercury developer but haven't heard back.

    T-mobile's tech support people have no idea what I'm talking about.

    Any suggestions besides paying them $15/month extra for what I should be getting anyway?
  2. aneftp macrumors 601

    Jul 28, 2007
    Try atomic web browser. Change it's user agent to desktop browser and see if u get the same error.

    If same error than it's on tmobile end. If no error than it's on mercury browser.
  3. iolinux333 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Feb 9, 2014
    OK I did that. I had to buy the paid version to enable the change in user agent.

    Same problem, instant redirect to tmobile's purchase hotspot page. It's now obviously T-mobile's screwup. Probably they're trying to keep jailbreakers from tethering but this is super lame. Changing user-agent in a mobile browser has been a standard thing to do since the days of WindowsMobile5, like 7 years ago.
  4. I7guy macrumors P6

    Nov 30, 2013
    Looking at Central Park@550 feet
    Maybe they should start deep packet inspection instead of looking at the browser identification.

    Or maybe you could live with this small restriction of using safari.
  5. C DM macrumors Westmere

    Oct 17, 2011
    Seems like T-Mobile is doing a rather bad job figuring things out. In a way ripping customers off due to their own incompetence or negligence of how poorly they do this.
  6. AutoUnion39 macrumors 601


    Jun 21, 2010
    Try Chrome and then use the "request desktop" option, instead of switching the user agent.
  7. iolinux333 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Feb 9, 2014
    That does work but I find Mercury is a far nicer browser as compared to Chrome. Regardless, Tmobile picking up benign non-tethered web browsing as tethering is just assanine. Beyond that even the concept of charging extra for tethering is assanine and illegal in most of the world.
  8. I7guy macrumors P6

    Nov 30, 2013
    Looking at Central Park@550 feet
    Here in the USA it varies by carrier. Not sure why tmobile would give you unlimited data and allow unrestricted usage.
  9. iolinux333 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Feb 9, 2014
    Well it does throttle down pretty severely after 5 gigs to the point of being almost unusable. Beyond that the fact that you can even come up with a thought like that goes to show us all how well the oligopolies have conditioned us. I don't mean that as a criticism I was surprised myself to learn that tethering charges are almost exclusively tolerated only in the US.
  10. I7guy macrumors P6

    Nov 30, 2013
    Looking at Central Park@550 feet
    For capped data plans, Verizon does not charge for tethering. For unlimited users on LTE Verizon charges $30. AT&T will kick you off the network if you try to tether for free, when a fee is involved.

    T-Mobile is the loss leader for plans, I can see why they would not want tethering on unlimited data plans.

    I do not think the rest of the world has unlimited data plans, everything is metered so the point is moot.

    I can understand why the providers would want to charge a fee for tethering for customers with unlimited data.
  11. lordofthereef macrumors G5


    Nov 29, 2011
    Boston, MA
    So... serious question (really)

    Does this happen in safari?

    if not, is it really a big enough issue to load this page in safari and avoid the headache of trying to talk sense into TMO?

    In my experience, if tech support can't help you one day, they won't be able to help in the next. If they don't have a step by step "walk the "tech" through this" on their computer screen, they are just going to consider this a non-issue on their end (at least until they get many similar complaints).

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