It is rumored to offer a 5GB/month allowance with the expected speeds of “GPRS: 30k – dialup speeds, EDGE: 110k – ISDN speeds, 3G: 1000k – slow broadband.” This would match AT&T’s current tethering option for BlackBerry customers and the plan, overall, works out to about $0.006/MB. That doesn’t sound terribly expensive, but for users who were planning to use it for data extensive applications and desire unlimited data, they will supposedly be told to “get a wireless PC card.” However, oddly, while BlackBerry customers can pay for additional data at more costly $.48/MB, iPhone users will purportedly have their service “automatically disconnected” if they “use too much bandwidth.”
Considering that iPhone 3G owners already have to pay a mandatory $30/month for “unlimited” data, this will come as a bit of a sting to some users. Even more so considering the brief availability of the now infamous NetShare app that took advantage of said iPhone’s bundled data plan to offer tethering at a one time fee of $10 for the cost of the program. However, it should be noted that, while Apple has not utilized it, they do have their “kill switch” that makes it possible for Apple to reach into your phone from afar and disable malicious applications. There is nothing to say that once AT&T’s tethering option is finally available — which still has no timeframe for availability as they are practicing “extreme caution” with this roll-out — that Apple might not exercise this option and disable NetShare forcing users to go the official route.
While most users probably don’t use a significant amount of data on their iPhone’s alone (looking over my previous months data usage, I averaged at about 200MB/month), it would be easy to see how once tethered to a laptop that would no longer be the case, especially for mobile professionals and frequent travelers who are constantly on the go. As more and more is done online, AT&T is looking to profit from that. Just last week, they announced that they would join several other U.S. broadband providers in testing tiered pricing for home internet users. Charging an additional fee for iPhone tethering would most likely fall in line with making a distinction of the level of services and options (and possibly speeds) you are allowed.