reported on Howard Forums that they received warning emails or texts from Cricket accusing them of using "unauthorized" devices and asking that they stop. Here's the text of one of the emails;
"Cricket here. Our records indicate you are using an unauthorized device on our network. Our agreement with you states you can only use a basic phone or smartphone with our service plans. See cricketwireless.com/acceptable_use Please discontinue this activity. Call us at 1-800-274-2538 if you have any questions."
The warning doesn't say what will happen to users who continue to violate the hotspot ban. I suspect that Cricket, probably after a second warning, will either block users data or terminate their accounts.
So far, all but one of the Howard Forums users who reported getting warnings have been using stand alone mobile hotspots rather than phones. But one person who uses their phone as a hotspot also got the warning. Another user who received the warning message is using a hotspot and SIM from business reseller 4G Antenna Shop (4GAS), which until recently was reselling Cricket service specifically for hotspot use!
Cricket's acceptable use policy prohibits the use of its SIMs in anything but a mobile phone and also prohibits using your phone as a hotspot unless you pay an extra $10/month for a hotspot add-on. The add-on is only available for some phones and is not available at all to customers on the $70/month unlimited plan. Cricket blocks hotspot from working without the add-on on Cricket and AT&T phones and many unlocked BYOP phones, including non-jailbroken iPhones.
For anyone wondering why operators care whether their customers use hotspot or not, the reason is economics. Carriers price their plans based on the assumption that some of their customers will not use all their high speed data every month. Hotspots are used to provide a data connection to PCs, set top boxes or smart TVs, all of which consume data at a faster rate than typical smartphone data use. Customers using more of their high speed data cuts into operator profits.
Cricket users have long been able to bypass the $10 hotspot surcharge by using their SIM in a MiFi or other hotspot device or in rooted or jailbroken phones or certain unmodified BYOP phones that allow hotspot use. Until now, Cricket seems to have been ignoring unauthorized hotspot use. I suspect that they were not enforcing the hotspot ban because it appears to violate the FCC's network neutrality order, which requires service providers to treat all legal uses of data equally. It's a virtual certainty that when Republicans get a majority on the FCC next year, the net neutrality rule will be repealed and that seems to have emboldened AT&T to start the crackdown now.
Source: Howard Forums, image Facebook