AT&T to Double Tethering Cap, Add Wi-Fi Hotspot Service for Some Phones

By  |  Wednesday, February 2, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Looks like AT&T has realized that its smartphone tethering plan is a raw deal, because the carrier will soon double the plan’s bandwidth cap while also allowing some phones to act as wireless hotspots.

Currently, AT&T charges $20 per month for tethering on top of its $25 per month smartphone data plan. But AT&T doesn’t provide any extra data for this service, so subscribers are confined to the same 2 GB per month for which they’re already paying.

That’ll change starting February 13, when AT&T starts selling phones equipped with Wi-Fi hotspot capabilities. Both wireless and USB tethering will extend users’ bandwidth caps to 4 GB per month for the same $20 surcharge as before.  Each additional GB cost $10.

Despite chatter, AT&T didn’t say whether the iPhone will get a wireless hotspot app to match the Verizon iPhone., but an AT&T spokesman told Wired that the carrier is working with Apple on it. The Verizon iPhone’s wireless hotspot feature is priced a bit differently because the basic smartphone service includes unlimited data (for now). It costs $20 per month for 2 GB of dedicated wireless tethering data, plus $20 per additional GB.

iPhones aside, AT&T’s first phone equipped with a hotspot will be HTC’s Inspire 4G, an Android 2.2 phone with a 4.3-inch screen.

I’m glad to see AT&T will no longer double-dip with a tethering plan that provides no extra bandwidth, though I’d be happier if the carrier allowed free tethering for customers who don’t need the additional 2GB. I’m grandfathered into unlimited data now, but for free tethering I’d hop onto metered billing in a heartbeat.



3 Comments For This Post

  1. David Says:

    Ditto. Free tethering with a 2GB limit could convince me to leave AT&T.

  2. Rev Says:

    Doesn’t the Nexus One for ATT already do the hotspot feature? Mine does (on TMobile). No need to pay TMobile or ATT extra money, because they don’t know that I’m using it and have no way of blocking it.

  3. Bouke Timbermont Says:

    Free tethering seem only right to me: you're paying for the small amount of data anyway, it's none of AT&Ts business how you use that 2GB.
    In times of unlimited data, tethering fees and throttling down data-hogs like Youtube would make sense (although I still think it's evil to break down net-neutrality). But when you're limiting your customers in their data-usage and overcharging them so heavily (come on, $10 or even $20 for 1 measly GB???) customers have to be allowed to use that data ANY way they want to.