When Verizon announced it’d be carrying the iPhone, the company highlighted the ability to use the handset as a portable Wi-Fi hotspot as one of the key differences between the Verizon iPhone and the AT&T iPhone.
You’ll be able to convert the phone’s incoming 3G data connection into a Wi-Fi signal that can be shared with up to five other devices—computers, tablets, other phones, anything with a Wi-Fi chip—just like you may connect to the wireless router in your home or office.
While pricing for the hotspot service wasn’t revealed at the time of the announcement, it’s now come to light that Verizon customers will need to pay an additional $20 per month for it. This isn’t a huge surprise, as Verizon already offers this same hotspot feature for other smartphones it sells.
Aside from having to pay an additional $20 for this feature, there’s another catch. The 3G data used when the phone’s in hotspot mode will be drawn from a separate bucket and will be limited to two gigabytes.
So if you sign up for the Verizon iPhone with its $30-per-month unlimited data plan, the hotspot feature will not leverage the same unlimited data as the handset itself. And each time you go over the two gigabytes provided in a given month, you’ll be charged another $20 for two additional gigabytes.
For comparison, AT&T doesn’t offer a personal hotspot feature for the iPhone but it does offer a $20-per-month “tethering” feature that allows you to connect your iPhone to a computer via the USB cable or Bluetooth connection and share its 3G data that way.
And this feature doesn’t provide any additional data transfer beyond the two gigabytes provided by AT&T’s $25-per-month data plan. The iPhone’s next software update that’s due in the coming weeks will enable the personal hotspot feature but it’ll be up to the carriers themselves to implement it.
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