Oooh, colour me jealous! Today, Verizon announced to the relief a huge number of U.S. residents, that they will (finally) be carrying the iPhone and breaking the exclusivity that AT&T has enjoyed since the first edition of the device back in 2007. That’s a long time to wait.
But that’s not the part that has me excited. Thankfully Canada is one of the few markets where Apple has not continued its practice of exclusivity for such a lengthy period of time. But I digress..
What really gets me pumped is the fact that the Verizon edition will include a feature called “Personal Hotspot”, which as the name suggests, allows up to 5 users to connect to the phone via WiFi for the purpose of internet tethering. You can also tether via USB or Bluetooth, but these connections are one-to-one, not one-to-many.
There is no word yet whether Apple will release this feature to iPhones on other carriers via the next version of iOS (4.2.5) which the Verizon model will run at launch. But I believe we have reason to be optimistic. The HTC Desire Z, for instance, has this feature too and you can use it freely (i.e. without any additional data fees) on the Bell network. Likewise, devices such as the MiFi offer the same functionality.
Why am I so keen to get this feature on the iPhone? Simple: It’s all about choice. I bought an Apple iPad without the 3G option because 99% of the time I know I will be using it with WiFi networks. But on the rare occasions when I can’t connect to a Wi-Fi network, I want to be able to use the iPad, and I didn’t think paying the extra $150 for a 3G version (plus a data plan) made any sense for such limited use. But there is no way to connect that device (or any other Wi-Fi only gadget) to my iPhone.
A WiFi hotspot feature would be the answer to a lot of problems.
Here’s hoping that Apple sees the intrinsic value to its users and makes this an upgrade to all iPhones with the next iOS release. After all, if Android can do it….
Update Jan 12, 4:16 p.m.: BGR has claimed, and we have confirmed with Apple – that this feature will be made available on existing iPhones, but that it will be subject to carrier approval. No word yet on which Canadian carriers will support it, or if there will be additional fees involved.
We do know that Rogers requires a separately purchased plan in order to use the hotspot feature on the new Palm Pre 2, so that may be an indicator of how they will treat the feature on their customers’ iPhones. Rogers and Bell include tethering on their smartphone data plans.
- Verizon Wireless to start selling iPhone in U.S. in early February
- Winners and losers: What a Verizon iPhone means for consumers, companies
- AT&T shares fall on Verizon iPhone announcement
disclosure: Sync is owned and operated by Bell Canada