Verizon plans on offering a 3G wireless hotspot feature with the iPhone 4 for $20 per month for 2GB data, according to an online report.
Brenda Raney, executive director of corporate communications for Verizon Wireless, reportedly confirmed that $20-per-month plan in a Jan. 25 interview with the publication MacWorld, which noted "that's the same price that applies to current Verizon smartphone owners." Running over that 2GB limit, however, will cost $20 for each succeeding gigabyte.
Since the Verizon iPhone 4's unveiling at a high-profile event in New York City Jan. 11, pundits and analysts have debated how the smartphone's presence on the new carrier will affect the fortunes of not only AT&T, which previously had an exclusive lock on the iPhone, but also competitors such as Google Android devices. Verizon's "Personal Hotspot," which will let the smartphone connect with up to five WiFi devices, is one of the few competitive differentiators from the AT&T iPhone.
Due for general release Feb. 10, the Verizon iPhone will sell for $199 for the 16GB model or $299 for the 32GB model with a two-year contract. It will not use the carrier's faster LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network, currently ramping to life, because of what Apple COO Tim Cook cited as his company's unwillingness to make "compromises" in hardware design.
The Verizon iPhone also features a newly designed exterior antenna, ostensibly to make the device compatible with the carrier's CDMA-based (Code Division Multiple Access-based) network, but likely also to prevent the same sort of reception issues that plagued AT&T's iPhone 4 throughout the summer.
Unfortunately, eWEEK had only a few minutes with the Verizon iPhone 4 at the Jan. 11 unveiling event, not nearly enough time to determine whether the revised antenna configuration had fixed the mildly infamous "death grip" issues. Soon after the iPhone 4's initial release, a subset of users complained that touching bare skin to the antenna rim dampened the signal. At the time, Apple offered free rim-covering bumpers to early iPhone 4 purchasers.
Apple's Website reportedly posted a breakdown of the Verizon iPhone early Jan. 26, but the information was just as quickly yanked down. As reported by the blog Apple Insider later in the day, the breakdown included that $20-per-month tethering.
Research firm iSuppli "forecasts Apple will ship 12.1 million CDMA iPhones through Verizon and other global CDMA wireless carriers in 2011," according to a research note circulated to media Jan. 11. "This will increase global iPhone shipments to 61.2 million units for the year, up 24.5 percent."