AT&T’s New Fare for Smartphone Data Tethering is More Fair

AT&T has recently announced the pricing for its mobile tethering plan as tethering will be a feature that will be available as an option on the company’s upcoming HSPA+ 4G smartphones, such as the HTC Inspire 4G, Motorola Atrix 4G, and the Samsung Infuse 4G. The company had previously charged for tethering on the iPhone, which costs an additional $20 per month. The problem with the carrier’s current iPhone tethering plan is that users would have to subscribe to the $25 per month 2 GB metered data plan, and the $20 monthly tethering charge would still have users eating out of the same 2 GB data cap each month, meaning that users are paying more for the same amount of data whether or not they tether.

However, that’s about the change as the new tethering plans are more fare. According to the carrier, the $20 monthly tethering fee will now net you an extra 2 GB of data, meaning that for $45 a month, you get a total of 4 GB of metered data plus the ability to tether.

Tethering allows smartphone users to share their AT&T mobile broadband connection with other WiFi-enabled devices by creating a personal hotspot. Essentially, it turns a smartphone, like an iPhone or Android phone, into a personal mobile hotspot, much like Novatel’s MiFi unit. Typically, up to 5 (though Sprint allows up to 8 connections on select devices on its Now Network) devices can connect to the hotspot.

AT&T’s plan changes for tethering may be reactionary to rival carrier Verizon Wireless as the carrier will soon be selling an iPhone as well for its CDMA network. Verizon had announced that in addition to its unlimited smartphone data plan for the iPhone for $30 a month, an optional $20 monthly tethering add-on would give users 2 GB of data specifically for tethering that won’t eat into a user’s smartphone allocation–which as of this time is still unlimited.

AT&T, which had ended its unlimited data plans for a finite, metered plan as of June 2010, would extend an additional 2 GB of data with its new tethering plan. The new tethering plan will be effective as of February 13, the day that the HTC Inspire 4G will launch.