AT&T to Finally Offer iPhone Tethering Plan?

March 16, 2009 | Chris Maxcer | Comments 1

By Chris Maxcertethering300x250

With Apple’s special iPhone 3.0 OS software preview set for March 17, there comes a lot of rumors. At the top of the list comes the long-awaited cut-and-paste feature, real MMS for sending photos to other cell phones, multitasking/background applications, and a data tethering plan that will let iPhone 3G owners use their iPhones as modems for their laptops.

Users of jailbroken iPhones have been able to use their iPhones as modems, though most wireless service carriers forbid the practice. AT&T, for example, offers data tethering with a few of its other smartphones, but not with the wildly popular iPhone. No doubt the issue isn’t with the iPhone itself; more likely AT&T is concerned about its ability to support legions of iPhone 3G owners clogging up its networks with on-the-go surfing.

AT&T’s BlackBerry Personal with tethering plan, for example, gives users 5GB of data for email, browsing, and wireless access to a tethered computer — all for $60 a month (standard voice plans are extra, of course). AT&T iPhone 3G customers already pay $30 a month on top of the standard voice plan for unlimited iPhone-based data.

Most everyone seems to speculate that AT&T’s eventual iPhone tethering plan will cost an additional $30 a month and come with a 5GB data transfer limit.

Back in November, AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph De La Vega let slip that a tethering plan was coming soon — but obviously soon didn’t really mean anytime soon. And as for the rest of AT&T, the company has been extremely quiet on the subject.

A few weeks ago I contacted Mark Siegel, executive director of Media and Industry Analyst Relations for AT&T Mobility, and the best I could get out of him was this nugget: “It is something we are looking at but have nothing to announce at this time.”

That’s pretty much par for the course — AT&T, at least with news surrounding the iPhone, has been mum until the day of any official launch.

Will a tethering announcement come tomorrow?

Maybe . . . and we hope so . . . but we also wouldn’t be surprised to have to wait until this summer on the anniversary of the iPhone when Apple will likely have something new to deliver.

In the meantime, wouldn’t it be great if AT&T offered a pay-as-you-go tethering data plan option? For example, we believe there’s a lot of iPhone owners who only occasionally need to tether their Mac or PC, and $30 a month for the privilege is just too big of a commitment. But $5 for 24 hours or 1GB of data? Now that’s the kind of plan that could go a long way toward making iPhone owners actually loyal to AT&T.

Filed Under: FeaturediPhone-iPod


About the Author: Chris Maxcer is editor and publisher of He's been writing about the tech industry for years. While he enjoys wicked cool gear and design, there's something to be said for turning it all off — or most of it — to go outside. To contact him, take a firstname.lastname guess at

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  1. Chris Maxcer says:

    Update: Apple said today that it would deliver a tethering capability into its iPhone 3.0 OS . . . and that it was working with its iPhone carriers around the world on the service side. Of course, each carrier has to be ready to ensure that it can handle tethering-based traffic and have a supported plan in place before iPhone owners will be able to officially use tethering.

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