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Posted at 12:49 PM ET, 03/ 3/2011

AT&T confirms hotspot feature

By Hayley Tsukayama

AT&T confirmed to CNET on Wednesday that it will be offering the iPhone hotspot feature built into the latest version of iOS to its users after Apple announced that iOS 4.3 will be available for download on March 11.

AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel said the feature will be available to iPhone users for $20 per month, the same fee that the company charges users with wireless hotspots. CNET noted that the wireless fee will in addition to the $25 per month data plan and that iPhone users will also have a 4 GB cap.

This feature is already available to iPhone users on Verizon's network.

By Hayley Tsukayama  | March 3, 2011; 12:49 PM ET
Categories:  Gadgets  
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Next: Nintendo brings Netflix, free hotspots to 3DS


Can anyone explain why, if I'm paying for a 2GB allotment of data (and a hefty overage fee per GB of data if I go over) why AT&T cares how that data gets distributed? It makes no sense to me why they would charge an additional $20 per month to share my connection to an iPad...I can understand this if you were on an unlimited plan...not not on a capped one...

Posted by: chuckiep | March 3, 2011 1:48 PM | Report abuse

I agree. You're already paying for data. It makes no difference to the carrier how you use that data. They're charging for this because they can.

Posted by: mcfiddish | March 4, 2011 7:38 AM | Report abuse

Exactly. It's all about money for AT&T (and Verizon for that matter). They're charging you for the "privilege" of using their system to transfer your data, and since you're locked into their contract, you have little choice unless you get your data access from somewhere else.

And there are no "unlimited" data plans on AT&T. Even the old ones that were advertised as "unlimited" have a data cap on them, according to AT&T that data cap just was "never enforced" until now.

So be careful if you think you have one of the old "unlimited" data plans with AT&T, because as I found out this week, you actually don't. And if you call and ask them and they tell you yours is "grandfathered in" ask to speak to a manager in their customer care department. Not only is AT&T not telling you that you actually have a data cap, they're not telling their first-line customer "care" weenies either. After my data access was cut-off unannounced twice in the past two weeks, and after eight calls to 14 different people at AT&T, I finally found all this out.

Posted by: mika_england | March 4, 2011 8:49 AM | Report abuse

So, basically, the gist of what you all are saying is that AT&T and VZ are a bunch of @$$holes.

Posted by: lainez1 | March 4, 2011 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Wow AT&T really knows how to piss off their customers.

Posted by: cashink2003 | March 4, 2011 9:29 AM | Report abuse

AT&T doesn't want their customers to actually use their data plans. They'd much prefer that you pay for it, but then rarely use it. That way they make money without having to do anything, like upgrade their crappy system.

I always laugh when AT&T told me that the reason why my phone wouldn't get the GPS navigation on a consistent basis while I was walking or driving was because I "was moving which interferes with the data reception".

Posted by: mika_england | March 4, 2011 9:39 AM | Report abuse

I am a long time ATT iphone customer so I was grandfathered into the unlimited data plan. Do I still have a cap when tethered?

Posted by: annmys | March 4, 2011 10:08 AM | Report abuse

annmys: Yep, you do. I had the exact same thing for the past four years. Found out yesterday that AT&T is now enforcing a 5GB limit on their legacy "unlimited" tethering plans.

So you're paying the same price for what is now a "limited" tethering plan as you were for unlimited. Apparently they told us all that there was a 5GB cap back in April 2009. However, it's only been the past few months that AT&T has actually decided to "enforce" the data cap.

So you've actually NOT had an "unlimited" tethering plan since April 2009.

At least that's how AT&T is how explaining it to me after I called them repeatedly about over the past two weeks.

I'm adopting a new strategy with AT&T: Any time the slightest little glitch, hiccup, delay, or other issue shows up with their data service I call them and ream them inside and out. If they're going to change the terms of my contract without telling me and giving me the chance to opt out right then and there with no penalties, then I'm going to get every single dime I can out of their customer "care" department.

Posted by: mika_england | March 4, 2011 10:29 AM | Report abuse

this is why you jailbreak the phone....

Posted by: jbatt01 | March 4, 2011 12:14 PM | Report abuse

of course it's all about money you ding bat.

Posted by: boise91801 | March 4, 2011 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I was with AT&T and decided to go with Walmart's Family Mobile which uses the T-Mobile network! I was worried as so many people have told me how T-mobile coverage sucks! But to my surprise my coverage is just as good, if not better than when I was with AT&T. The best part is it is only costing me $45 per month, plus $25 for each additional phone which included unlimited minutes and Text! As for data, I bought their $40 data card which has 1000 Mbs which you can use any time and never lose it unless you run out of mbs! Because I encourage my family to use wifi when ever possible, and because Walmart includes 100 mbs free with first time hook up of each phone, we still have over 1000 mbs left at the end of February! Seems like this $40 card should last us at least 2-3 months. Which translates to less than $15 per month for Data coverage total for all 3 phones on my account! So, that comes to $95 for the 3 phones, plus $15 or so for data and tax, for a total of around $120 for 3 phones for everything! The Sims card and connecting fee is a one time charge of $25 per phone, which you have to pay up front! And there is no contract, it is month to month so I can quit anytime! Best of all, most T-Mobile phones will work with the Family Mobile SIMs card without having to be unlocked (even though Family Mobile reps will tell you that locked T-Mobile phones won't work and you either have to buy Walmarts phones or use unlocked ones--not true)! So far, I give Walmart's Family Mobile a 10 rating!

Posted by: yankeechess | March 4, 2011 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Also, AT&T tried their darnedest to keep me when I told them I was leaving them for Family mobile! But AT&T has gotten way too expensive! If I stayed with them with my 3 phones, unlimited minutes, text and data would have run me between $200-300 per month which is a ripoff! Going with Walmart's Family Mobile I estimate will save me close to $1,500 per year! Bye bye AT&T!

Posted by: yankeechess | March 4, 2011 1:42 PM | Report abuse

The most telling thing in all my conversations with AT&T over the past several days about their sudden decision to "enforce" a data cap they've not bothered to worry about on my account for almost two years was the answer one of their customer care managers gave me when I asked: "So tell me exactly why I should keep my accounts (wife, kids, mother, etc) with AT&T?"

Their response: "Because we have the largest network in the country?"

And, yes, they did phrase it in the form of a question.

If that's the best they can do, for someone who's had their account with AT&T for over ten years (went from AT&T to Cingular back to AT&T), then they can suck the corn from my poop.

Posted by: mika_england | March 4, 2011 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Let us all act as cynical grads of Screw U. and tell AT&T to shove it! Since the Library of Congress declared last year that handset "jailbreaking" has always been LEGAL and not a copyright infringement, it has become increasingly easy to purchase the LEGAL unlocking codes to enable all the immense hardware capabilities that were CRIPPLED by the celtower companies when they sold the smartphone. Like Regular Wifi connectivity, for instance. You can now hack the phone and install an operating system that will connect just like a netbook to free Wifi access points. Also satellite GPS radio: it's in the hardware and firmware, you just need to disengage the celtower company's crippling software that keeps you tied to their overpriced celtower GPS signal that is useless in remote unserved areas. Let the revolution begin!
Sprint's supposedly "CDMA-only" phones actually have Worldphone GSM SIMcard capability: it's just crippled for U.S. sale. You can insert a foreign SIMcard behind the battery and use the GSM radio overseas without overpriced 'roaming' on the U.S. network. However, to jailbreak this GSM capability, you have to buy a security/SIM/OS unlock code, install a new radio firmware, and make the GSM radio capable for U.S. celtowers of TMobile or AT&T, the only two U.S. GSM carriers. The reason the Sprint CDMA phones have GSM capability is because Sprint bought some old GSM celtower networks and their phones have to use GSM in those geographic areas.
Using an AT&T GSM SIMcard, you don't have to pay a monthly plan just to get voice, text data and email. You can prepay by unit cost and avoid paying for service you don't intend to use. Plus you can just switch out the SIMcard when you go overseas, pay a pittance for the carrier service over there, and NOT pay any service stateside while you're over there. Sweet!!!

Posted by: Religulosity | March 4, 2011 3:41 PM | Report abuse

I don't favor the purchase of an iPhone unless it becomes capable of sharing its internet access with accompanying components like computers, iPads and even game consoles and DVRs using either BlueTooth or WiFi methods. Oh yeah - with a flat rate for service that includes broadband access - with no rate caps.

These features are already built-in to today's technology but are simply constrained to allow the service providers to spoon-feed us everything A la carte. I can't even sync my Motorola flip phone with my Mac using BT because Verizon decided to disable such features several years ago in favor of selling extra services to backup our phones.

Face it - we are being ripped off and the system is laughing all the way to the bank - with our collective blessing, no less. Unless we make a fundamental market-driven change, nothing will. Do we want to? How can we effect such a paradigm shift? Wasn't Google supposed to come up with cheap, full-featured phones? Ohh, that's right, the service providers decided to hamstring the phones with crapware.

It may be an extension of the Usury issue; I am not up on that aspect. Good thing, too - it would probably tick me off even worse.

Rob, you have reported on most of these issues already; has my tilted summary revealed anything earth-shattering that would prick up your ears?

Posted by: WorldNet | March 4, 2011 7:19 PM | Report abuse

no worries, im sure a jailbreaker is working on something to bypass this as we speak.....

long live JB'ing!

Posted by: a1711100 | March 8, 2011 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Im sure a jailbreaker is working on a fix as we speak

Posted by: a1711100 | March 8, 2011 3:56 PM | Report abuse

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