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Google bans tethering app from Android Market?

A developer says Google has banned his Wi-Fi tethering application from the Android Market over concerns that it violates T-Mobile's terms of service.

Don't expect to find tethering applications on the T-Mobile G1. CNET

Google has reportedly pulled a tethering application from the Android Marketplace to mollify its first wireless carrier partner.

Android, which Google says "brings Internet-style innovation and openness to mobile phones," will apparently not support applications that violate the terms of service of its carrier partners, namely T-Mobile in this particular case. Seth, a developer who worked on an application called "Wi-Fi Tether for Root Users," said Tuesday that the application was pulled after Google pointed out that T-Mobile, the only wireless carrier shipping an Android phone, doesn't allow tethering.

Tethering, the act of connecting your mobile phone to your Mac or PC to use it as a modem, is allowed by some mobile carriers with the purchase of an extra data plan but forbidden by others. Their concern is that data sent and received via personal computers could overwhelm a wireless network, but some carriers, such as AT&T, are fine with the practice so long as you pay extra.

Google's apparent refusal to allow a tethering app is also confusing since Android handsets are expected to be eventually available on carriers around the world, some of whom permit tethering, and unlocked versions of the T-Mobile G1 are available for use on any network.

Is Google planning to create versions of the Android Market for specific carriers, where some applications are allowed and some aren't? While that may be business as usual in the mobile world, it's not exactly the strictest definition of "open."

For years, wireless carriers have been denounced as the force holding back innovation in this industry, fairly or unfairly. And Android, as originally envisioned by Google, was supposed to help break down those walls and become "an unprecedented mobile platform that will enable wireless operators and manufacturers to give their customers better, more personal and more flexible mobile experiences," according to the press release that announced Android's arrival in 2007.

In the past, Google has wrestled with the conflict between creating a truly open platform and the need to manage compatibility requirements and balance carrier relationships. The company did not respond to a request for comment on the Wi-Fi tethering application.