updated 07:55 pm EST, Wed March 2, 2011
ATT says its iPhone Personal Hotspot due March 11
AT&T on Wednesday night confirmed with Electronista that it would start supporting the Personal Hotspot feature in sync with the launch of iOS 4.3. Subscribers will have the same support as Verizon customers when the update pushes out to the GSM iPhone 4 on March 11. Pricing should stay the same as for basic tethering and will need its new DataPro hotspot/tethering plan, which combines 4GB of total data with connection sharing for $45.
The pricing puts it on par with Verizon's own combined strategy except for flexibility. Verizon's plan has unlimited data on-device, but users can't draw more than 2GB while in hotspot or tethered mode without an overage. AT&T's plan is capped on all devices, but those who tether or use the hotspot often will have up to twice as much room. International carriers are still offering better deals, and Canadians will get free hotspot creation on plans that already included tethering at no extra charge.
Adopting the hotspot so quickly is a contrast with AT&T's initial approach to direct tethering. The carrier promised tethering would come to its version of the iPhone soon after iOS 3.0 brought it about but didn't make it available until a year later, after many carriers in other countries had already enabled it. Lingering concerns about the 3G network's ability to handle the load were considered the driving factor, but its then-unlimited plans may have played their own role.