I suppose they can't help themselves. They are a phone company, after all. How many of you out there use your smartphone to get online with your laptop by tethering the latter to the former?

Uh, huh! I don't have to see you to know there are a lot of hands shooting up right now.

Bad news if you're a Sprint customer. Sprint announced this week it will no longer allow its customers to tether their way online with their smartphones. From now on, you'll have to use a special Sprint dongle and get yourself a separate data plan (No, you're not wrong. You are being turned upside down by your ankles while your carrier shakes you down for more cash).


That's just wrong as my best friend, Zelda, would say.

You can bet the other carriers will be right on their heels with this one.

I got one word to say: netbook.

That's what this is about.

Let me harkin back to a posting of mine from earlier this month, "Will Telcos Kill The Netbook?"

I made the prediction that the telcos are aiming to co-opt the netbook business with their own business model that is not so user-friendly.

It's already happening.

I bought my netbook for $330 this summer, competitively priced to undersell the larger, more powerful laptops. I fear these days are dwindling. It appears the phone carriers are hoping to sell netbooks like mobile phones with a monthly data plan and a two-year contractual commitment (plus whatever extras they can sell you).

Of course, in order for this to work, they need to make sure you can't use your smartphone to get your netbook online,

This would be like your cable television provider making you get separate accounts for every television in your house with cable access (instead of a nominal monthly fee on the same bill for each additional outlet).

This would be like your electric company making you set up a separate account for every plug in your house.

This would be like the water company making you set up a separate account for every faucet, washer and dishwasher hook-up in your house.

This would be like your electric company no longer allowing you to power small appliances with a handful of Duracell batteries. Instead you would have to use a proprietary battery of theirs set up under a separate account with a monthly basic fee that is double your basic electric bill fees,

Not much will be said about this up front. Trust me, there's going to come a time when the consumer catches on and realizes what a shameles stick-up this is.

We pay for Internet access at home. Businesses pay for it at work. We pay for Internet access on our mobile devices. Now Sprint wants you to pay separately for netbook access.

Monthly Internet access should not look like a car payment.

People use the Internet on the move across multiple devices. People should not be forced to pay for separate data plans for every location and device they use to go online.

I wish I were a Sprint customer so I could dump them in protest.