Smartone-Vodafone Tethering Now Exposed

Smartone-Vodafone logoToday all PCCW Home Netvigator (one of the largest Broadband ISP in Hong Kong) customer encountered problems accessing web sites outside of Hong Kong. It started for me some time around 14:00 and is still an issue.

Fortunately, many people who has an iPhone was able to tether their computer to their iPhone’s HSDPA connection.

This produce a very good result. Although, as the PCCW problem persist throughout the evening. I presume more and more HSDPA customers are tethering their phone to their computer for Internet connection.

I notice Smartone-Vodafone; who previously did not make a distinction between regular HSPDA traffic and tethered traffic. This evening all of a sudden modified their settings so that their “SmartoneIN Toolbar” momentary appeared in the Safari browser window on the Mac, while the Mac is tethered to the iPhone.

This means that Smartone-Vodafone may have changed their exchange settings in an attempt to identify tethered traffic and/or control the bandwidth usage on their network.

For anyone who is not paying for a Smartone-Vodafone Tethering package, I suggest you stop tethering your computer to your iPhone until we who had used this service this month check our upcoming bills for charges from Smartone-Vodafone.

11 Comments

  1. I believe the “SMC-Voda Broadband” is the APN for SMV's Home Broadband and Mobile Broadband services. The latter is the service utilizing their USB Modem, USB Stick or built-in Vodafone notebook. These two services have different pricing plans and broadband services.

  2. The exact text in the contract is:The data usage applies to mobile phone use only and handset APN setting must be “SmarTone-Vodafone”. The data usage includes internet browsing, watching videos on the Internet, file upload/download, VoIP and instant messaging.Data usage on smartone does not include Vodafone Email usage, in which case #0.03/KB will be charged and maximum charge is $898 per month. $0.06 for data access from PC using mobile phone as a modem or using “SMC-Voda Broadband” (internet) APN or any other APN, and maximum charge is $898 per month.

  3. It appears that Smartone-Vodafone had corrected their APN settings so that it is no longer case sensitive. Another one of my suggestions to them resolved.

  4. Mine works with “smartone-vodafone” without the capitals.The reference to the other APN is just in the verbage of the terms and conditions quite clearly. Maybe they have changed the T&C recently as my friend signed last week. I'll get another look at it and find out the exact words.There must be some kind of difference in quality of service or else they wouldn't be so clearly making a distinction between the 2 APNs.

  5. I had spoken to Smartone-Vodafone about monitoring and/or throttling traffic through their regular IOM tariff plans. They assured me that they do no do neither.Also, the APN for Smartone-Vodafone mobile data is “Smartone-Vodafone” (note that upper case “S” and “V”). I don't understand why any SMV customers would use another APN value. Where did you see this mention of another APN in the “Terms and Conditions of the $238/month Unlimited Integrated Combo Plan”.BTW: I too am a subscriber to this Unlimited 3G Integrated Combo Plan.

  6. I had a look at someone's contract who signed up to the $238/mth unlimited plan. In the terms and conditions it says that you must use the APN “smartone-vodafone”. It said that if you use a different APN something like “smc-voda broadband” (I can't remember exactly what it was) you would be charged the data rate and a maximum of $898/mth. So maybe this is the way Smartone distinguishes whether to charge data, and can also throttle data going through the standard “browsing” APN vs their “Broadband” APM.

  7. Anyone know if I tether any phone to Smartone? Currently I'm paying about $180pm for the privilege of a Vodaphone stick modem. Not well supported — they haven't bothered to upgrade so its not compatible with Snow Leopard.http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/09/10/vodafon…Anyway, does anyone know what's the best Smartone tethering solution? If any. Prefer not iPhone. I dont' think I'd more than $180 PM though. Why pay more to use my own modem for exactly the same data.TIA and cheers

  8. You are quite aware of Smartone-Vodafone's tethering plans. I believe you can use any 3G enabled mobile phone to tether your computer.The reason that I would suggest the iPhone is because using the iPhone; at least with the Mac, does not incur additional cost on your iPhone plan.

  9. I don't believe that is the case, Smartone-Vodafone initially marked all browser HSDPA traffic from a mobile phone with the SmartoneIN toolbar. Last year after I wrote about the SmartoneIN Toolbar in my post Smartone-Vodafone’s Stubbornness and then Is Smartone-Vodafone Listening?, Smartone-Vodafone had changed their system so that it recognizes the iPhone browser as different HSDPA traffic.Since I wrote in the post Tethering iPhone 3.0, Smartone-Vodafone did not mark or mark the HSDPA traffic from the Mac tethered to the iPhone as different HSDPA traffic then HSDPA traffic directly from the iPhone's normal use. The presence of this SmartoneIN Toolbar yesterday may be a glitch; we hope, but it may also be Smartone-Vodafone's attempt to distinguish tethered traffic.Yes, normal tethering usually requires a dial-up sequence from the computer, but if you tether the Mac to the iPhone via USB cable that is not required. Dial-up sequence is only required if you try to tether the Mac to the iPhone via Bluetooth.

  10. If anything, the presence of that toolbar is a good thing, meaning that Smartone thinks that the traffic is normal mobile browser traffic.Other “mobile as a modem” type connections, use a different protocol, something similar to dial-up which I think is how mobile companies determine the different type of traffic.

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