Personal Hotspot Coming to AT&T iPhone 4

By  |  Thursday, March 3, 2011 at 10:47 am

AT&T confirmed Thursday that it would indeed bring the Personal Hotspot feature included in iOS 4.3 to its iPhone 4 customers. Verizon customers got to enjoy this feature at the launch of the device last month, for a $20 extra charge above the regular data plan.

Verizon users get 2GB of data to use for tethering: AT&T will also give its own users 2GB for the same price. In both cases, the data used in tethering applications is separate from the data used on the phone itself — meaning if you go over on either, you’ll be socked with overage charges in either case.

At least AT&T finally realized it’s not right to take your tethering data out of your regular data plan, yet still charge you an additional fee. Maybe it’s just me, but that seemed like highway robbery. In any case, AT&T’s announcement is sure to begin the debate on whether or not the user has a right to use the data they pay for in the manner they want.

[UPDATE: AT&T has contacted us to clarify: “AT&T counts data used in tethering applications and data used on the phone together,” spokesperson Steve Kerns told us. “So a 2GB tethering plan and a 2GB phone data plan would provide 4GB of data that customers can use on the phone or through hotspot use.”]


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8 Comments For This Post

  1. Bouke Timbermont Says:

    "In any case, AT&T’s announcement is sure to begin the debate on whether or not the user has a right to use the data they pay for in the manner they want."

    You betcha: why the hell is 'tethering data' any different from 'on-phone data'??? I kinda get why tethering came at an additional fee back when the contracts were without datacaps, but I REALLY don't get why AT&T is allowed to control how you consume your data.
    Once again, this is another example of providers taking control over how you use the internet. It's outrageous they even dare to call it an invasion of their freedom when any kind of legislation tries to stop them from abusing their power that much, such as in the net-neutrality debate.

  2. Paul Says:

    I feel the same way about texting – something that the carriers make pure profit off of. Unfortunately what makes it legal is the contract that you sign with the carrier. It defines what you can – and cannot – do with your data package.

    Frankly the FCC and FTC needs to look into this, but I doubt they will.

  3. Rev Says:

    There’s a solution for the money-grabbing ways of ATT and other providers (and their enabler Apple): buy an unlocked phone.

    I have been running my wireless hotspot for months now on my Nexus One. No extra charges over my regular data rate. In fact, I get a discount every month because I brought my own phone.

  4. Paul Says:

    Not really – You still have to sign an agreement with a carrier to use the phone on their network locked or unlocked. Buying unlocked just gives you more freedom (not really useful if everybody does the same thing and removes the idea of a long term contract.

    It also means that you have to spend more money up front. Google tried that with the Nexus – numbers showed that not too many people were interested in doing that.

  5. Rev Says:

    Agreement? I didn’t sign anything I don’t have a contract. They don’t even know what phone I own. For a while I used my Blackberry data plan on my Nexus One. They still don’t know what phone I have, only that it’s an Android.

    No contract, no control over the features on my phone, and (based on two years of ownership) actually cheaper than getting a subsidized (carrier controlled) phone on contract.

    What’s not to like?

  6. Paul Says:

    Unless you are going pre-paid, all carriers (at least the major ones) have terms of service that you have to agree with if you want to use their data plans which are separate. That applies for getting a SIM card, or getting a CDMA device activated.

    The agreement isn't time based, but it is a "if you violate this, we cut off service" and that has nothing to do with your locked status of the phone. Having an unlocked phone just saves you from ETF penalties.

  7. The_Heraclitus Says:

    " In any case, AT&T’s announcement is sure to begin the debate on whether or not the user has a right to use the data they pay for in the manner they want."

    Well, you have whatever rights the contract signers (AT&T + customer) agreed to in the contract.

  8. billsridepics Says:

    wait – the outrageous thing here is that AT&T won't allow you to use the hotspot function unless you buy the elevated data cap. Why? The function has nothing to do with the amount of data you shuffle. It's like the cable company saying you can't plug in a bigger TV or use a DVR unless you buy their HBO package. WTF? This seems to be illegal bundling – an abuse of trust.