G1 Tethering, Terms of Service, and the Powers of Agents
I spend about a month each year traveling with my family, during which time tethering could be—in the past, with a different phone and carrier, has been—very convenient. I would be happy to pay extra for that month to be able to do so. It occurred to me that there might be such a plan that could be used with the G1 or, alternatively, some way of using my T-Mobile service mostly for the G1 but, when needed, for tethering via the USB device. If there is not such a plan—and there probably isn't—perhaps raising the issue with T-Mobile would get them interested in providing one.
Besides, I didn't have anything else to do this evening. So I got in touch with T-Mobile's online support, which takes the form of a chat window, and put my question.
The answer I got was that, if I download and use the open source tethering application, T-Mobile will not support it. If the result is to somehow damage the phone or its software, T-Mobile will not be responsible. But, according to both the agent I was chatting with and her supervisor, using it does not violate my agreement with T-Mobile, and T-Mobile does not forbid me to tether.
My guess is that they are wrong. So far as I could tell, neither of them really understood the issue despite my efforts to explain it; they were thinking in terms of the use of unsupported applications, not of the use of them to do things forbidden by the TOS. The supervisor may also have been thinking in terms not of what T-Mobile could prohibit but of what prohibition they could in practice enforce—he may not have taken seriously the possibility of a customer not doing something because he had agreed not to do it, even if he was sure he wouldn't be caught.
But both of them said I could do it, with the initial agent explicitly saying that since she was an agent of the company she was entitled to say I could; the supervisor supported her position. Where does that leave me, legally and morally speaking? Am I entitled to rely on what I am told by people who T-Mobile has provided to answer such questions—even if I think their answer is probably wrong?
If, by any chance, anyone from T-Mobile reads this post and is curious, I did save the chat sessions--after telling both agents that I would do so and receiving no objection.