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How to Bypass the T-Mobile Tether Block

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Published on Jan 20, 2013

If you are watching this video, it probably means you already know how to tether, you just want to figure out how to bypass the T-Mobile upsell redirect (aka tether block page).

T-Mobile blocks tethering by packet sniffing and reading the user-agent string in your HTTP request headers. Good news is this data can be easily spoofed on nearly all browsers, or blocked entirely by using encryption (HTTPS/SSL, or VPN).

To spoof user-agent data in Chrome, press CTRL+SHIFT+I and click on the settings icon on the lower right corner. Select the Overrides tab, and then check the User Agent box and select "BlackBerry --- PlayBook 2.1". Alternatively, and as indicated in this video, you can install the User Agent Switcher for Chrome. It's much more powerful and actually remembers your user agent settings (like when you open new tabs, restart the browser, etc...).

Bad news is similar data is sent by Adobe Flash and there are no easy ways to modify this data with Windows. To make matters worse, YouTube doesn't transmit Flash videos over HTTPS, they are sent insecure over HTTP, so any Adobe Flash user-agent information is easily sniffable by T-Mobile. So when T-Mobile users tether and then try to access YouTube (whether SSL or not, and with browser user agent spoofed)), the pages will all load, but the videos will display an error. There are a few work arounds (other than using VPN):

1) If available, switch the video to 720p or 1080p quality. For whatever reason, T-Mobile doesn't block this type of YouTube Flash content. On the negative side, you'll use more bandwidth. Also, not all videos are created in HD.

2) Use YouTube TV / HTML5 (aka popout in Chrome).
A little know feature is YouTube TV, which uses HTML5 exclusively. In Chrome, you can play videos by right clicking and clicking popout. If you prefer to browse YouTube TV, you can go to tv.youtube.com. The interface is not optimized for a keyboard. You can also visit http://youtube.com/html5 which will allow you to participate in the HTML5 trial on YouTube. Once signed up, YouTube will attempt to present videos with HTML5 instead of Flash wherever possible, and within the standard web site. This does not work with all videos, particularly videos that contain ads, so you may still need to switch to HD or popout to view videos.

There's a lot of bugus info floating out there saying that T-Mobile is specifically looking for and only allows mobile user agents. That's not true. T-Mobile is specifically looking for and blocks known *non* mobile user agents like desktop versions of Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer. You'll notice if you use no user agent, T-Mobile won't block/redirect that traffic to the upsell page. There are also people that suggest they look at your computers MAC address and block information that way. That is also not true. T-Mobile currently only blocks known non-mobile user agents, this, it's super easy to get around.

Ultimately, the best way to bypass a tether block and maintain the most security is to use a VPN connection, but that's outside of the scope of this video.

I hope everyone finds this video useful. If you have any questions or want to weigh in, feel free to leave comments in the section below. I don't like the fact that T-Mobile is violating its customers privacy without their consent and without their knowledge by engaging in the immoral activity of packet sniffing. We are paying customers, T-Mobile advertises unlimited data, they throttle it to 5GB or less, we expect to get at least that.

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