Verizon has confirmed that customers will have the option of connecting a laptop to their new Motorola Droid smartphones, on sale tomorrow, using the phone as a wireless modem. The carrier won't say exactly when customers can do this tethering but they are exact about what it will cost: typically, an extra $30 per month, doubling Droid-related data fees.
Connecting a laptop or other device to a phone for wireless data access is called tethering. Verizon offers this as a service, called Mobile Broadband Connect, for an array of its data-capable 3G smartphones. (Verizon has an online FAQ.) The new BlackBerry Storm2, which just became available, supports this same capability, for example.
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For a typical Droid user, the price tag for Mobile Broadband Connect will be $30, according to Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Raney, via e-mail. That gets you 5GB of data transfer. Verizon charges 5 cents for each additional megabyte over that limit.
As with other Verizon phones, the additional monthly charge can double data fees associated with the Droid, though technically the charge is a data service for laptops. After rebates, the Droid itself costs $200 with a two-year contract. Service plans require Verizon's Nationwide voice plan, which begins at $40 a month for 450 voice minutes, and the Email and Web for Smartphone plan, which is $30 a month.
There are actually three Mobile Broadband Connect plans, the price varying depending on what other Verizon contract the subscriber has. The $30 option is available with the largest number of Verizon contracts, such as Unlimited Wireles Email, Email and Web for Smartphone Feature or Plan, Nationwide Premium Plan and others.
For those who have Verizon's Nationwide Email plan, the MBC price tag drops to $15; if they have an MBC-capable handset and any "qualifying voice plan," it jumps to $50.
Separately, Verizon offers laptop users a wireless data service, called Mobile Broadband, with USB or PC Card, offering 250MB of data for $40 a month, and 10 cents per additional megabyte, or $60 for 5GB, and 5 cents per additional megabyte.
Droid users will have to wait until sometime in 2010 for tethering. "That service is on our schedule for next year," Raney says. The delay is due to the fact "the service has to be tested on the phone so until we know it works, we don't offer the service," Raney says. "It is not uncommon for us to introduce the phone and continue to test the service and offer it later."