I recently purchased an unlocked Android phone (Motorola G7) and when I try to enable a WiFi hotspot I get the message "Your current rate plan does not support this feature".

I've seen various reports of people getting this message in error.

Aside from that issue, I am wondering why Google (the authors of Android) and/or Motorola (the makers of my phone) even care about the fine print in my carrier's plan. They sold me a device which is capable of forwarding packets from other devices. If my service provider wants to market a form of price discrimination based on selectively allowing or disallowing packet forwarding, why would my phone retailer or architect even be interested in cooperating?

It would seem analogous to an apartment manager who takes issue with my sharing WiFi, or some other non-transferable good such as airplane tickets, with a neighbor. Or what if Android tried to prevent me from getting student discounts or food stamps when I am not eligible? I don't see what is gained by the third party even taking an interest in these cases. Is Google acting out of a legal obligation here? Are they doing something illegal?

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    Are you under the impression that your device is running a 'plain vanilla' build of Android? It's not. It's running a build which your service provider created (in order to assist with locking features just like this). This has nothing to do with Google. – brhans Aug 19 at 15:01
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    @brhans It rather depends where the OP got their phone from. If they got it from their service provider, you are right. OTOH, my firm bought mine from the local electronics website, so there was no way to tell which provider I was going with. – Martin Bonner Aug 19 at 15:58
  • As brhans has said, Google has nothing to do with this decision. Stock Android does not include any such limitation. It is usually the phone manufacturers that have customized the operating system to include such a feature, usually as part of an agreement to have their phones offered by certain carriers. It's one thing to sell your phones online as unlocked devices (very small market), it's another to get them directly into their stores (very big market). – animuson Aug 19 at 17:37
  • But it's not clear why you think this is a question of law. Why do you think it'd be illegal to limit a feature you did not pay for? A lot of software out there has different tiers of features. Do you think they actually have completely separate distributions of the software for each tier? No. They simply block certain features that you don't currently pay for. – animuson Aug 19 at 17:38
  • It's an unlocked phone I got directly from Motorola. After I got it, I did answer "yes" to a prompt asking me to upgrade the firmware. By the way I checked that an old iPhone has the same limitation, but that phone is locked to the carrier (it also directs me to the carrier's website to enable WiFi tethering, while the Android doesn't mention the carrier in this context). I am happy to move the question to another site but I thought it might be a question of corporate law, contract law, or maybe even anti-trust law or privacy law. – Metamorphic Aug 19 at 19:05

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