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AT&T iPhone Tethering Plan Specifics, No Unlimited Plan?

AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph De La Vega has recently announced the arrival of an official iPhone tethering plan. While we already knew the plan was in development prior to his announcement, little information pertaining to specific tethering offerings has been revealed.

On October 23rd, a source was able to confirm for MacBlogz, that AT&T was developing an iPhone tethering plan, and that it wasn’t being released due to “problematic issues caused by AT&T’s cellular network, coupled with extreme caution being practiced by AT&T.”

The reason we haven’t heard or seen anything about it, is because AT&T is being extremely paranoid of how the service will run on their network. “Since I’ve worked here, I’ve never seen them be so worried about legalities,” my colleague explained. Regarding the service being available to Blackberry users, he says that it’s a different situation. Blackberry users haven’t slammed AT&T’s network by the millions in one quarter, in such large rushes. “Regardless of how many billions of dollars AT&T pours into their 3G network, it hasn’t been stable enough to handle all you iPhone users,” he explained.

Interestingly, on November 6th, AT&T (finally) publicly announced that an iPhone tethering plan was in the works, and was coming “soon.” The same source that was able to confirm the validity of the tethering plan for me, has shed some light on a few specific pieces of information (pertaining to iPhone tethering) we can expect from AT&T, when the plan is finally released.

• 5GB Data Cap (just like Blackberry users) – AT&T will automatically turn off your tethering connection if you use too much bandwidth. Of note, the 5GB cap might get sliced for all users, not just iPhone users, in order to accommodate all new tethering plan customers (bandwidth demand).
• Initial connection through iTunes? (not sure if this is every time you connect, or just for initial setup)
• Expected speeds: GPRS: 30k – dialup speeds / EDGE: 110k – ISDN speeds / 3G: 1000k – slow broadband.
• You’ll want to disable auto-updates for everything, so as to not go over usage limitations.
• Will be +$30/month, new iPhone plans may be rolled out with tethering rolled in.
• Do not pro-rate tethering/bandwidth, it can become a nightmare, instead wait until new billing cycle.
• For unlimited bandwidth, AT&T will tell you to get a wireless PC card.
• No idea on a launch date.

My colleague has worked at AT&T for some time now, so this advice should be taken relatively seriously if you are at all interested in controlling your monthly payments.

Comments [23]

23 Comments to “AT&T iPhone Tethering Plan Specifics, No Unlimited Plan?”

hillaryclinton @ November 11th, 2008 at 10:09 am
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that would be like ATT, to slice the overall monthly limit from 5GB to something even lower. jeez

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chewbacca @ November 11th, 2008 at 10:17 am
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You know how many people are going to get ROYALLY screwed because of this. ohhhhh man.

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VGP @ November 11th, 2008 at 10:18 am
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“You’ll want to disable auto-updates for everything, so as to not go over usage limitations.” — VERY GOOD POINT, i am a blackberry tethering plan user. got slammed for this a few times.

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Chris @ November 11th, 2008 at 12:37 pm
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I’m glad I downloaded Netshare when it was available. I wonder if Apple will press the nuclear button on it when this official tethering plan is released. If so, they better credit my account back with the money I paid for it.

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proaudioguy @ November 11th, 2008 at 12:54 pm
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Don’t iPhone users already pay for bandwidth? Having you computer use the same data service you already pay for is really a rip-off.

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jeff @ November 11th, 2008 at 3:06 pm
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Just download active sync to your iphone and use the USB cable that connects with ur iphone and you dont ever have to worry about bandwith or data restrictions and added at&t costs…

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Chuck @ November 12th, 2008 at 5:51 am
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Quickpwn. Jailbreak. Pdanet. That is all.

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James Katt @ November 12th, 2008 at 6:11 am
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This is a GOOD idea. The computer uses more bandwidth than the iPhone thus AT&T has to be able to limit use to avoid overwhelming its 3G network. We all know how easily overwhelmed its 3G network can be. Usually Tethering costs $50 a month. This is a lower cost which allows casual use of tethering. It’s a good compromise.

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Sal @ November 12th, 2008 at 2:56 pm
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tethering costs $50 a month? Where would that be. I have tethering for my Verizon Blackberry for only an additional $15 per month. $30 a month is way too much for a tethering option, they need to make it comparable to the Verizon rate.

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Sean @ November 12th, 2008 at 8:23 am
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I didn’t see “wireless” mentioned in the tethering. A wireless tether would be taxing on the iPhone itself. Do we think we’ll be seeing a wired tether initially, leveraging the iTunes connection? That would definitely give AT&T/Apple more control over things.

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Noah @ November 12th, 2008 at 8:42 am
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Personally, I think $30/mo. for functionality already inherent to the device is excessive.

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Aviv @ November 12th, 2008 at 8:49 am
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owen @ November 12th, 2008 at 11:29 am
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$30 on top of the bill is not cool. Now, they better not try and say the iphones data usage without tethering is limited to 5GB.

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dt @ November 12th, 2008 at 11:37 am
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so is it 30$ on top of the current plan, or 30$ instead of the 20$ current data plan… isn’t the difference only 10$ a month?

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333 @ November 12th, 2008 at 3:11 pm
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@dt: I don’t think that’s been made clear. I just hope Apple shocks us all and reveals it for cheaper. especially after hearing the HORRID complaints by users on the web.

they could simply take all the information over all the blogs (it’s like free surveys at this point.. PRICELESS) and introduce an extremely welcome surprise. come on apple. don’t do us wrong.

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Fineleng @ November 13th, 2008 at 6:46 pm
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I think having to pay $30 to effectively use a device I own how I want to use it is excessive. I am already paying for 5GB/months on my iPhone plan. The $30 tethering option is capped at 5GB/month…so what am I getting? Nothing. From a network perspective, I get no additional service. I only get to use a different user interface for the same connection. What is the difference? A computer will get more bandwidth typically than a phone. So what is really going on here?

Simple. AT&T markets you 5GB for your iPhone but they really do not want you to use it. This is apparent when you consider that when you switch to a device likely to consume a greater portion of that 5GB, they want more money. If you were really buying and paying for 5GB, you would not have to pay more to consume that amount, nor would you have to get clearance from AT&T to use the device you bought in a technically feasible manner. It is all a marketing gimmick.

There is another angle. This is simply a case of market power. They are the only provider of the iPhone. You have no choice if you want that device. Thus, this gives them greater pricing power. In that sense it is just smart business. Of course they have similar plans for other data phones so it takes us back to the point above.

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Josh @ November 14th, 2008 at 8:44 am
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Why not just get a sprint card for the same price and get unlimited data thats way faster? I hate at&t. Bunch or crooks. Not that sprints any better. But I do think they are the lesser of the two evils.

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Dave @ June 8th, 2009 at 12:53 pm
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What happened today? AT&T been talking for nearly two years about rolling out tethering. Now we learn they are not one of 22 carriers in the world to support iphone tethering? This is ludicrous and shameful on AT&T’s part. How low can this company go?

I mean, c’mon they publicly promised this and now they aren’t delivering, not even for a premium price. The worst carrier just became worse.

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DDA @ June 9th, 2009 at 9:32 am
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Unfortunately, I too was waiting for the tethering option when I bought my iPhone 3G last year. AT&T tried to sell me an additional data plan (which i didn’t buy) and said I could tether. After some research, I found out I couldn’t tether even with the additional data plan. Fast forward 1 year…

I came from Verizon where I could bluetooth tether to my iMac or my Mac Book Pro or USB to my Toshiba 17″ through my Palm Treo 700p, never without a problem with my unlimited data plan or the need for multiple air cards. I am a light tether user where the time I would use it is where I cannot get on a free Wifi connection, office WiFi or being way out in the woods on a job. BTW AT&T’s free WiFi in certain locations is a joke, damn near have to be a network admin to connect sometimes.

I replaced my Treo on for an Air Card from Verizon to retain my ability to have wireless connectivity without Wifi. I stuck with Verizon for the reception reliability and its reach off the beaten path. It was also less expensive than what AT&T was offering at that time.

I want to upgrade to the new Mac Book Pro released this week, but the new 13 and 15″ do not have an express card 34 slot anymore, only the 17″ does. This forces me to look at buying another USB based air card to run on all of the laptops. What would be nice (and I believe was the intent from Apple) to tether with the iPhone and drop the need for air cards all together. I agree. Why have a smartphone especially at this price if you can tether?

Now that AT&T is dragging their feet on tethering and the new 13″ and 15″ Mac Book Pros and they have lost their express card slots is really putting a wet blanket on Apple’s latest product launch of the iPhone 3.0 software, iPhone 3GS and the MBP’s. This is a feature I have been patiently waiting for and would make my life a little easer and I can reduce my technology budget.

I also wish AT&T would get their crap together on their networks and improve their reception issues with the iPhone. I always get a rediculous amount of dropped calls just before an update is announced and launched. After the launch and the phone is upgraded, everything settles down for a while.

There should be no reason AT&T cannot get it together with high popularity of the iPhone going on its 3rd year. There should be no reason AT&T couldn’t pull tethering and MMS together in time for the 3GS and the 3.0 software launch on the 17th. I can’t wait to hear if the 3GS gets any better reception than the current 3G iPhone.

My goal is to carry less. All I want is my new 17″ Mac Book Pro, my iPhone 3G, 1 cell phone bill with free tethering upto 5GB. If Apple can lower their laptop prices by $300 across the board in this economy, why can’t AT&T offer free tethering up to 5GB and offer a low price plan for power users using more than 5GB?

AT&T already has my home and DSL business along with the iPhone, why do I have to go way out of my way just to get a wireless air card because I can’t tether my iPhone occasionally to my laptop? This shouldn’t be an issue and it should be available by the 3.0 software update on the 17th. MMS’ing photos to other iPhones and smartphones would be a big help in my line of work, this should be delayed either.

I hope we can generate a lot of heat on AT&T for them to get it together. I really liked how Apple has already turned up the heat on AT&T at the WWDC 09. Its time for AT&T to commit some serious resources to the iPhone platform if they are going to continue to have the lock on the iPhone.

D

“My iPhone is great for everything except making phone calls.”

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Kanacho @ August 17th, 2009 at 5:53 pm
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AT&T really needs a boot in their *ss cause the big attraction to the iPhone would be 5GB data plan, atleast 3.5GB tether, mms, unlimited iPhone data (safari, AppStore, cydia), and yet the haven’t the time to get the fat *ss’s up and get atleast the first gen iPhones ago for all this. If you ask me AT&T should be called AT&BS because apple has everything set and AT&T refuses to setup everything in time for school to start atleast. AT&T, do you want to come down to no biz cause your head is in your *ss, I mean com’on and get in the game already!

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big J @ June 23rd, 2009 at 10:44 pm
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what realy sucks is the laptop connect cards only let you use 5GB of data untell they charge you and I have iphnoe and cant teather with out paying WTF!!!! AT&T IS REALLY STARTING TO P*** ME OFF

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usagi @ June 24th, 2009 at 2:04 pm
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Is any of the American company going to do something for customers instead of for themselves?

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Mark @ July 18th, 2009 at 5:49 am
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I’m always shocked when I read about how horribly unfair and anticompetitive the American wireless industry is! I’m a Finn and here in Finland it is ILLEGAL to sell the same exact service – data transfer – at different prices depending simply on how the service is used. I pay 9 Euros per month for unlimited data transfer (and its ACTUALLY UNLIMITED, none of this “fair-use shit you Americans have to put up with) from my mobile operator and I can use it HOWEVER I want, wether that be with a phone or computer. Talk about being stuck in the past, the American wireless industry really sucks, I mean, you people haven’t even agreed on a common standard, we’ve been using GSM exclusively here in Europe since 1987!

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