iPhone Wi-Fi hotspot: which networks make you pay?
15th Mar 2011 | 11:26
And which operators offer free iOS 4.3 Wi-Fi hotspots?
The launch of the iPad 2 might have been the headline of Apple's recent announcement, but the news that the new iOS 4.3 update would finally bring iPhone personal hotspots to the iPhone 4 was big news too.
Now users can actually share the data in their contracts to a laptop or tablet - something their Android counterparts have been able to do for nearly a year.
However, like the furore over tethering your iPhone to use it as a data modem, users might have to pay once again to use the data they've paid for on their contract.
After some anecdotal evidence that some users have been able to activate the functionality TechRadar has been in contact with the UK networks to find out if they will be charging for the service, and what options users have should they feel the need to use the new iPhone iOS 4.3 Wi-Fi hotspot.
We'll be updating this piece as and when we hear back – although we'll be shocked if any buck the tethering trend and actually offer free data use via the Wi-Fi hotspot.
O2 iPhone Wi-Fi hotspots
It seems like good news for O2, as the network seems to be open to the idea of including the tethering deal as part of the data bundles it already offers:
"We regularly refresh our tariffs to reflect the market and, crucially, what our customers want. We are launching our new tariffs in the next few weeks and will be announcing more details soon.
"We can confirm that Tethering will be included in our new data allowances. Existing customers will have options to move new tariffs, although some rules may apply."
Vodafone iPhone Wi-Fi hotspots
Over on its forum, Vodafone said that it will be enabling the function in the same way as it worked out its tethering plan:
"The new IOS wireless hotspot functionality for iPhone can be accessed by Vodafone contract customers.
"The wireless hotspot uses a tethering APN and its use is subject to additional data charges, the details of which can be found here: iPhone Tethering and Personal Hotspot charging
"iPhone customers who are already using our tethering price plans will be able to use the new functionality with no further charges.
"Please note, tethering (and therefore the wireless hotspot functionality) is not currently available on PAYG iPhones."
Three iPhone Wi-Fi hotspots
We already know that on Three's One Plan, which features all you can eat data, tethering is already allowed, and Three has confirmed that to TechRadar, saying: "On The One Plan Three gives customers all-you-eat-data, which includes allowing them to use their phone as a modem for tethering, so customers on The One Plan are free to use the Personal Hotspot feature as they like without incurring any additional charges."
Three adds: "Customers on other tariffs or on PAYG will have the data use from the Personal Hotspot feature deducted from their allowance as they would any other data use. The best value option in this case is to buy a mobile internet add on."
So to clarify, while Three offers an all-you-can-eat data on PAYG if you top up £15 per month this data can't be used for Personal Hotspot.
T-Mobile / Orange iPhone Wi-Fi hotspots
Everything Everywhere has responded to our request for comment, telling TechRadar that as the Personal Hotspot uses the tethering APN customers will have to fork out for a dedicated tethering data plan.
"In order to protect the experience for the majority of customers, we only support mobile internet tethering services on our network via tethering data bundles specifically designed for this use."
UPDATE: T-Mobile has got back to us with more specific details on Personal Hotspot charges. T-Mobile says:
"T-Mobile users who wish to take advantage of iPhone 4's Personal Hotspot functionality have two options.
"If they are a Pay Monthly customer they can add a Mobile Broadband Booster to their monthly tariff. This will cost £5.10 per month for those who already have Internet on Your Phone included in their monthly tariff (which will account for the vast majority of iPhone users), or £10.21 for those who do not. This will entitle the customer to a Fair Usage Policy Amount of 1 GB per month.
"Pay as you go customers, and Pay Monthly customers who do not subscribe to a Mobile Broadband Booster, will be charged at our normal pay as you go rates for mobile broadband usage. These are:
£2/day (Fair Usage Policy Amount: 250 MB)
£7/week (Fair Usage Policy Amount: 500 MB)
£15/month (Fair Usage Policy Amount: 1 GB)
"Pay as you go customers will be charged for this using their existing credit, whilst Pay Monthly users will have the charge added to their monthly bill."
And Orange has contacted us to say: "To enable personal hotspots as part of the new iOS 4.3 update feature, customers need to have a tethering option on their account. Tethering bundles are available for £5 per month for 500MB data, and customers must be on an iPhone specific tariff for this. It is a monthly bundle that can be cancelled at any time, subject to 30 days notice."
Tesco Mobile iPhone Wi-Fi hotspots
We spoke to Tesco, which confirmed that as it doesn't support iPhone tethering it hasn't enabled the portable Wi-Fi hotspot feature either:
"Tesco Mobile doesn't currently support the functionality for personal Wi-Fi spots but plans to be able to introduce this soon for customers," said the spokesperson.