19th March 2010
My 18 month contract with O2 ended this last week and so for the last couple of weeks I have been exploring my options. I had already had the phone unlocked by O2 and as I won’t be upgrading for a while, I was after the best short term contract available. Vodafone’s £20/month SIM only deal offering 600 minutes, unlimited texts and 500MB mobile internet seemed to be my best bet. After quickly scanning the contract I noticed that they did not restrict how the data could be used, i.e. tethering should be possible. A quick phone call to their sales staff confirmed this, or so I thought.
After installing the new SIM, I quickly headed to the network settings to try out tethering. Instead of breathing new life into the phone however, the ‘Internet Tethering’ button merely brought up a message informing me that the feature was not enabled and that I would have to contact Vodafone. Perhaps it needed a restart? No, it turns out that if you use the iPhone with one of the official carriers, then they must authorize it. Without jailbreaking the phone, which in hindsight might have been a better option, it is not possible to enable it even on an unlocked phone.
Given that I had already clarified with Vodafone that data could be used in any way, I gave them a call to request tethering be enabled. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the first assistant I spoke to said that this was not possible on a non-iPhone contract. I then had a relatively lengthy conversation with his supervisor who told me that the iPhone plans (which have tethering enabled) are set by Apple and their is no way that Vodafone can change these or offer any form discount. When I put it to her that customers who end their 18 month contracts will likely ask for a discount as the contract has been subsidising the phone, she said that a discount would be unlikely. Her manager however was able to give me a discount, not a perfect one admittedly, but an acceptable one. For £20/month for 6 months I get 300 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB data which can be used for tethering.