AT&T has confirmed that it will support Apple iOS 4.3's Personal Hotspot feature, which enables the iPhone 4 to act as a hotspot. iOS 4.3 will be available March 11.
owners on the AT&T network will soon be able to enjoy tethering-or as Apple
calls it, a Personal Hotspot feature-when Apple releases iOS 4.3 March 11.
plans to support the iOS 4.3 mobile hotspot feature," an AT&T spokesperson
told eWEEK. "To utilize this feature, customers will need to subscribe to the
DataPro 4GB/$45 tethering data plan."
been slow to get behind tethering-the ability to support another device using
the iPhone as a modem-holding off on the capability even after carriers around
the world were supporting it. Currently, AT&T enables iPhones to tether to
a single device over Bluetooth or a USB connection.
On Feb. 13,
however, AT&T began offering an AT&T Mobile Hotspot application that
enables "select smartphone customers" to use their phones as a WiFi mobile
hotspot for up to five other devices. Its introduction came days before the
launch of the Verizon iPhone 4, which does support tethering, making it an easy
assumption that AT&T iPhone owners would be among those "select" few. But
introducing the application Feb. 3, an AT&T spokesperson told eWEEK, "We are working with Apple
to bring [tethering] to
the iPhone. Nothing else to share at this time."
On March 2,
Apple-in addition to unveiling the iPad 2-introduced iOS 4.3, calling it an
"ecosystem that offers customers an incredibly rich experience and developers
unlimited opportunities." It's also only for GSM-based iPhone 4s, which leaves
out the Verizon model, which is based on CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access)
Personal Hotspot feature in iOS 4.3 lets you bring WiFi with you anywhere you
go, by allowing you to share an iPhone 4 cellular data connection with up to
five devices in a combination of up to three WiFi, three Bluetooth and one USB
device," Apple said in a March 2 statement. Once the feature is enabled, "a
status bar displays how many devices are currently connected. Every connection
is password-protected, and when not in use, Personal Hotspot turns itself off
to save battery life."
not, however, confirm that it would support tethering to as many devices as iOS
tethering in iOS 4.3, analyst Jack Gold, with J. Gold Associates, commented
following its release, Apple has also fixed the "competitive disadvantage" that
the iPhone suffered against Android smartphones-a major new focus for AT&T,
now that it's no longer the exclusive provider of the iPhone.
addition to an unlimited data plan-which is likely to end this summer
-are ways that
Verizon has worked to differentiate its offer from AT&T's, particularly
since its CDMA version isn't able to carry a phone call and access the Internet
at the same time. (Critics, perhaps surprisingly, have found this to be not such a big deal
quality on the Verizon iPhone 4 is said to be superior, it reportedly suffers
from antenna issues similar to those of the AT&T model. Consumer Reports,
while writing that the Verizon iPhone 4 features "great multimedia
functionality, a sharp screen and the best MP3 player we've seen on a phone,"
said it nonetheless couldn't recommend it.
findings, we believe the possibility exists for individual users to experience
[performance issues] since low signal conditions are unavoidable when using any
cell-phone network," the publication reported in a Feb. 25 blog post.
AnandTech, however, which performed its own tests, reported in a Feb. 13 post
that the issues appear to have been addressed.
"Death grip is
essentially mitigated, and the attenuation," or loss of antenna reception,
"when held, is now comparable to other smartphones," said the report.