Apple’s inclusion of a mobile hotspot on thenew iPad is pretty exciting. Like the iPhone, we can now use the tablet as a hotspot to share the data connection with our other wireless devices. But Verizon’s move is even better: you don’t pay extra for it.
Verizon has confirmed to several sites that its 4G plans will include the option to tether at no additional cost. Verizon’s iPad 4G plans include 1GB of data for $20, 2GB for $30, and 5GB for $50. This is completely different from smartphone plans, where the “right to tether” can set you back as much as $20 per month, in addition to the normal fees.
AT&T hasn’t specified whether it will follow a similar route, although a tweet provides little hope. In fact, it suggests AT&T will not offer tethering at all — a move none of us should finding shocking considering the company’s past history. Remember when tethering was first introduced in 2009? It took the company a full year to support the feature.
At least one carrier seems to be listening. Despite the industry’s protestations, we pay a set amount every month for a set amount of data. There shouldn’t be an additional charge for the right to use the data in another way, as long as we stay within those limits. No matter whether the data’s being used by the device itself or a device tethered to it, I can think of no valid reason why such a right should incur an additional charge. It’s price gouging, plain and simple.
Verizon seems to have figured this out. Its olive branch to those who want to tether devices to the iPad in order to use the data they have already paid for is a solid business move. It separates them from the competition (for now), and hopefully is the beginning of the end of a crappy, consumer-hostile practice.
Will this signal the end of the tethering tax on smartphones, too? I’ve argued previously, regarding AT&T’s data throttling strategies, that you can’t have two sets of rules. In the end, customer pressure won the day and the carrier relented. If we really want to end the surcharge for hotspot use, we’re going to have to apply pressure to the companies in the same manner to get what we want, and frankly what is right.