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Consumer Services Europe
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Tablets and Tether:
Made for Each Other?

| Oct 6, 2011 | Consumer Services Europe
| Analyst: Emma Mohr-McClune, Research Director, Consumer Services Europe


To date, European operators have taken a variety of approaches to the tether question. Whereas some attempt to ban tethering within their smartphone plan terms and conditions and encourage premium option sales, others are promoting the practice to encourage smartphone customers to keep upgrading along a tiered data path. In the coming weeks, tablets are anticipated to come into focus, both in the operator and IT reseller channels, and this looks set to trigger some rethinking on tether and its alternatives.

‘Tethering’ refers to the practice of sharing the cellular Internet connectivity of a data-enabled mobile phone with a second device, most usually a PC or tablet, via Wifi, Bluetooth or a USB cable. For the end user, this represents a cost-saving opportunity to aggregate mobile data spend on a single plan by effectively turning the smartphone into a modem or wireless router. To date, few operators have published, or even given a rough indication, of the growth of tether traffic within their mobile data volumes, although it is recognized that in some regions – notably the US – the tether uptake curve is steep. This has been driven in no small part by the rise of free tether apps such as PdaNet (over four million downloads and counting, according to developer June Fabrics) or EasyTether which allow users to remove the ‘tech complexity’ in establishing such a connection, but also by Android and iOS smartphone software updates facilitating tether.


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