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Apple Adds Tethering Option to iPhone OS, AT&T Ready

By Patrick Barnard, Senior Web Editor, TMCnet

A report on Gizmodo states that beta version of the next operating system for Apple's iPhone (News - Alert), OS 4 beta 4, released to developers yesterday, includes an option for Internet tethering. This indicates that AT&T is finally ready to support this option.

The option, found in Settings > General > Network, allows users to share the iPhone's Internet connection with a computer via Bluetooth or USB. AT&T (News - Alert)will charge extra for this feature, according to published reports, so presumably it involves buying an additional data plan.

According to another blog post on ZDNet, AT&T first promised the tethering option last summer, but for whatever reason the option never materialized.

'Now you can share the fast 3G connection on your iPhone with your Mac or PC and connect to the Internet from just about anywhere - no Wi-Fi required,' a page on Apple's (News - Alert) website states.

The thing that seems odd about this statement is the combination of the phrases 'Mac or PC' and 'from just about anywhere.' It seems to imply that people would carry around their desktop computers from place to place for the purpose of tethering them to their iPhone. Tethering to a laptop, of course, makes sense and would be another matter...(sorry to get hung up on semantics).

An interesting question raised in ZDNet post is whether a user will be able to tether their Wi-Fi-only iPad to their iPhone using this option. Basically this would allow Wi-Fi-only iPad owners to use their iPhone to access the Internet via their 3G service. Which basically means they could use either device on the same data plan - but will Apple and AT&T allow that?

Apple iPad'Conspiracy theorists would say that Apple wants to sell more 3G iPads (which carry a $130 premium over the Wi-Fi model) and that AT&T would rather you purchase another data contract.,' ZDNet blogger Jason O'Grady writes. 'But if you're already paying for an iPhone data plan and tethering for your notebook computer, no one would purchase a third data plan for their iPad? Would they?'

Patrick Barnard is a senior Web editor for TMCnet, covering call and contact center technologies. He also compiles and regularly contributes to TMCnet e-Newsletters in the areas of robotics, IT, M2M, OCS and customer interaction solutions. To read more of Patrick's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Patrick Barnard