New iPad may push AT&T to drop restrictions

Tethering feature in new 4G iPad undoes one more customer-unfriendly carrier policy, in a slow but steady pattern

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Apple has generally let the carriers engage in their unfriendly policies, such as forcing customers to use an AT&T or Verizon partner when traveling overseas, rather than going with a local carrier as chosen by the user. But when it came to the iPad, Apple demanded several changes from carriers:

  • Not require a commitment for data usage (iPad data plans are month-at-a-time).
  • In the case of AT&T's GSM-based iPad and iPad 2, allow the use of a foreign SIM when abroad (most foreign countries use the FGSM technology, whch the Verizon CDMA-based iPad 2 doesn't support, so the notion of a SIM didn't apply).

Now with the third-gen 4G iPad, Apple has added one more unwelcome requirement on the carriers: tethering. It's a standard feature on the iPad, as it is on the iPhone 4. But unlike with the iPhone 4 (or Android device), you don't have to pay for the right to tether; you just can, at least on Verizon. Of course, if you use more data and exhaust your plan, you'll need to buy more or search for Wi-Fi, but there's no tethering surcharge.

AT&T's new 4G iPads won't tether -- at first. But after a minor uproar ensued once would-be buyers figured this out, the company now says it is "working" to enable the tethering on the 4G iPads it sells and that hit the shelves today.

I know it doesn't seem like a lot, but it is progress. And it happened only because Apple is running the show.

This article, "New iPad may push AT&T to drop restrictions," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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