Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Want to Turn Your New iPhone 3G S Into a Modem? Be Ready to Pay Up.

If you’re the sort of person who gets up early to stand in line for the new iPhone 3G S, then you’ve almost certainly got one in your hands by now: Early reports are that the lines for Apple’s (AAPL) newest handset are much more manageable than for previous rollouts. (Though there are some exceptions!)

And if you are that kind of person, chances are you’re interested in the new phone’s “tethering” function, the ability to plug it into your laptop and use it as a modem. But you’re going to have be patient–and affluent.

If you’re an AT&T customer, you’re not going to get the chance to do this in the near future. The wireless company has announced that it’s going to offer tethering, but hasn’t said when. Meanwhile, it has said that it will offer MMS, the ability to send videos and photos from the phone without using email, this summer. So reading between the lines, it’s reasonable to assume that tethering won’t be showing up for the next few months at the very least

And if you’re an AT&T customer, chances are that when you do get the chance to tether, it’s going to be very expensive. Like most carriers, AT&T (T) has said it is going to levy an additional charge for tethering, but hasn’t said how much. Web reports out today suggest that AT&T plans to charge $55 a month. on top of its $30-a-month iPhone data plan. As Daring Fireball’s John Gruber notes, that’s much more than wireless customers outside the U.S. pay for tethering. But it’s cheaper than the rates other AT&T customers already pony up: Blackberry owners currently pay the carrier an additional $60 a month for tethering. UPDATE: Thanks to reader Rob Campbell for catching my error: AT&T charges Blackberry users an additional $15 a month for tethering. So if AT&T really does charge tethering iPhone users $55 a month, it’s likely to be an all-in-one charge that includes the phone’s $30 data plan. We’ll see when the company finally announces pricing, whenever that is.

For what it’s worth, I’m not in the chorus of those who think that’s outrageous: I currently pay Sprint (S) $60 a month for a (pokey) wireless EVDO card with a 5GB data limit, on top of the $100 I pay for an unlimited voice/data plan for my BlackBerry.

ANOTHER (!) UPDATE: Earlier in the day AT&T refused to comment on the $55 pricing plan. Now, via their Facebook page (!), the company confirms that tethering will not cost $55 on top of standard data plans. But it doesn’t actually say how much tethering will cost. So we’re back where we started.

[Image credit: PR 1001]

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Nobody was excited about paying top dollar for a movie about WikiLeaks. A film about the origins of would have done better.

— Gitesh Pandya of comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”