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AT&T Introduces Tethering and Ends Unlimited Data for the iPhone

AT&T has been promising tethering for the iPhone since Steve Jobs announced the feature on stage at the World Wide Developers Conference in June 2009.  Now, AT&T is announcing that tethering – which allows users to share an internet phone connection with their computer, will be available on June 7, the start of WWDC 2010.  Coming along with the tethering is brand new pricing for data plans.

The new plans are $15 for 200 MB, and $25 for 2 GB of data.  To add tethering to the mix you have to pay $45 for the same 2GB of data. {Gizmodo}  It may be cheaper than the $60 AT&T did have for tethering, but it imposes a much smaller bandwidth cap (2 GB as opposed to the “unlimited” 5 GB).  The new plans will go into effect on June 7, giving users some time to add data if they don’t want to switch to the new plans. {Engadget} With AT&T’s recent price increase for early termination, even WalMart’s half off the initial price of an iPhone doesn’t seem like it would put a dent in long term pricing.

These plans also apply to the iPad, replacing the plans that Apple and AT&t were both so proud of .  However, if you have an iPad with 3G already, or can find one in the next few days, buying the $30 unlimited plan and setting it to auto-renew will let you keep the unlimited plan.  It defeats the purpose of having a no-contract data plan, and you might not use over 2 GB of data over AT&T’s 3G network, but the principle might be enough for some.

This change just makes the Sprint EVO 4G look even more appealing.  Buy it alongside an iPad, and you can pay $30 a month to have the phone act a WiFI hotspot for both 3G and Sprint’s 4G network.  You can then use the same hotspot on a number of other devices like a laptop, so it’s not just restricted to the iPad.

Paired with rumors of Verizon testing the iPad, it might give more weight to those Verizon iPhone rumors. {Boy Genius Report}  Or at least a Verizon iPad.  Apple can’t be too happy with AT&T changing the iPad data plans just two months after the device’s release.  Or maybe it could be AT&T who isn’t happy with Apple for talking to Verizon.  We’ll find out for sure when Steve Jobs takes the stage at WWDC on June 7, but until then we’ll just have to wait.






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