Internet tethering is a new iPhone feature included in the recently released OS 3 that allows your iPhone to provide mobile broadband for your laptop of desktop computer. You don’t need to buy a new iPhone to use Internet Tethering, it also works with any 3G iPhone that has been upgraded to OS 3.
Although it’s a great feature, there are a few surprises that mean tethering may not be all you had hoped for. For example, it only works if you pay an extra monthly subscription to your phone mobile company. In the UK the prices start at £14.68 per month for 3GB – full details here. This is about the same as other mobile broadband prices. Discounts are available for business users, but Pay As You Go customers cannot use the service.
In the UK, in the Tethering prices also include unlimited use of The Cloud’s Wifi network, but this doesn’t work via the Tethering software, so you may need to buy a Wifi interface for your laptop or desktop if it doesn’t have one already. Either way, you’d need to configure your laptop or desktop to use the Cloud network.
To get Internet Tethering working you need to contact your airtime supplier and update your contract. Then go to the iPhone Settings app, hit “General” then “Network” and then click on the button labelled “Set Up Internet Tethering”. Finally, if you’re going to use Bluetooth to tether your computer, enable Bluetooth on the iPhone and pair your devices. Otherwise, plug your iPhone into your computer and you’re just about done.
I like Internet Tethering but – in the UK at least – the price is too high. After all, unlimited Internet data is already included in UK customers’ monthly price plan. Charging extra for data because it is being routed to another device is not completely logical. More importantly, if Tethering were included for free in the monthly subscription it would be a compelling reason for people to chose the iPhone instead of an alternative.