Starting February 13th, AT&T smartphone owners will be able to download an app that converts a phone’s cellular data connection into a conventional Wi-Fi signal that can be used by other devices.
AT&T currently offers a “tethering” option that lets you share a phone’s connection with one other device via Bluetooth or a USB cable but the new app will allow multiple devices such as computers and tablets to connect to the phone as though it’s a Wi-Fi router.
The “Mobile Hotspot” application, as it’ll be called, will require users to subscribe to AT&T’s two gigabyte data plan at $25 per month along with an additional hotspot plan at $20 per month. The hotspot plan will grant users an additional two gigabytes to use, for a total of four gigabytes that can be used by the handset itself and any devices connecting to it.
When Verizon revealed that it’d be selling the iPhone this month, one of the key differences it touted between the AT&T and Verizon versions was that the Verizon version would feature a hotspot application.
For comparison, Verizon’s hotspot feature costs $20 extra on top of a required $30-per-month handset data plan that includes unlimited 3G data.
However, the Verizon’s hotspot data maxes out at two gigabytes and is counted separately from cell phone data. So you basically can surf the web on your phone as much as you want but if you connect your laptop using the hotspot feature, it’ll draw against a two-gigabyte pool separately.
AT&T’s hotspot plan is also capable of leveraging faster HSPA+ data speeds, which the company has labeled as “4G” while Verizon’s hotspot plan is 3G-only for now since the it hasn’t started selling 4G handsets yet.
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