New tethering details
Apple announced tethering -- the capability to use your mobile phone's data connection to provide Internet access to your laptop or other devices -- along with iPhone OS 3, back in June 2010. While the feature has been available in other parts of the world for months, here in the U.S. tethering is still unavailable nearly one year later.
Which makes Wednesday's AT&T press release that much more notable: The new data plans include a tethering option for an additional $20 per month, and AT&T says the feature will be available for iPhones "when Apple releases iPhone OS 4 this summer." AT&T can't be more specific right now, since Apple is the source of the "this summer" timeline for iPhone OS 4, but we suspect we'll have a more concrete OS 4 release date soon.
What isn't clear from AT&T's announcement is if tethering will be offered to current iPhone owners who opt to stick with their current (unlimited-data) plans. There's been quite a bit of speculation about how AT&T would manage data usage if the company allowed iPhones with unlimited data plans to provide Internet access to laptops and other devices. It appears these new plans, which include monthly data limits, address that issue, so we suspect AT&T will require iPhone owners to switch to one of the new plans in order to use the tethering option. We've contacted AT&T for more details.