AT&T has finally revealed how much it will cost to tether an iPhone or another smartphone to your laptop to share a 3G data connection: About $20. But that’s only part of the story, because that’s $20 you’ll have to spend on top of a $25/month data plan that provides you up to 2GB of data transfers per month. In other words, the total cost is $45 per month.

And it turns out that is also only part of the story. Because on June 7th when AT&T introduces its new data plans which include a tethering option, the company will also be phasing out its unlimited data plans.

Existing users don’t have to make the jump to a new, limited data plan — unless they want tethering capabilities.

AT&T suggests that 98% of their users won’t be affected, because they regularly use less than 2GB of data per month. But that’s largely because even streaming audio doesn’t use up all that much data and there aren’t a ton of streaming video solutions for mobile devices. Once iPhone OS 4.0 is released and customers actually start using their iPhones as modems for their laptop, we could see data usage climb pretty sharply as people try to use their laptops to watch videos, download large files, and do all those other things people like to do on a laptop.

You can find a full breakdown of the new data plans at AT&T.

Brad Linder

Brad Linder is editor of Liliputing and Mobiputing. He's been tinkering with mobile tech for decades and writing about it since...

2 replies on “AT&T to offer tethering… and to kill unlimited data plans”

  1. AT&T = all the time nickel and dime lol

    If users aren't affected in the first place because they use so little data why not just add tethering to the current plans?

  2. Yeah… This feels like a bait and switch for the iPad plans.

    As to data, anyone who thinks that a 2GB cap is enough is kind of crazy. I don't see data usage going DOWN or even staying the same once you mix tethering into the mix… And having to pay more to get less available data now that you can finally access it using your laptop does seem like a slap in the face.

    Personally a 5GB cap has kept me from signing any contracts. My life is increasingly online. So the 98% of our users won't be affected claim seems a tad ridiculous. Especially since if it were indeed true, why bother with the cap at all? To fleece more money out of the 2% who are the most active? It doesn't really make sense.

    I hope this trend doesn't continue. There's not a lot of competition as it is in wireless with only a handful of major operators, and they each lock each other out with device exclusivity. There's been no real regulatory oversight to make them play nice other than the FCC sending out letters requesting information which hasn't seemed to stop any of the major providers from implementing any of their anti-consumer polices. It's a negative trend, disingenuous, and one more reason (as if I needed more) to avoid their service like the plague it is. Now if only the iPhone was sold on different carriers…

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