Verizon dishes on iPhone hotspot pricing

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Earlier on Tuesday, Verizon announced that its unlimited data plan will stick around for a little while after the iPhone’s launch. Speaking to Macworld later in the day, Verizon Wireless’s Executive Director of Corporate Communications, Brenda Raney, also confirmed pricing details about the mobile hotspot option the carrier announced at the Verizon iPhone’s introduction earlier this month.

Raney said that Verizon iPhone owners will be able to take advantage of the 3G wireless hotspot feature for an extra $20 per month on top of the iPhone’s required voice and data plans—that’s the same price that applies to current Verizon smartphone owners.

Activating the wireless hotspot feature on your Verizon iPhone will allow you to use the device as a sort of portable Wi-Fi router for up to five devices, such as notebook computers and iPads (to learn more about mobile hotspots, check out Marco Tabini’s overview).

The hotspot feature comes with its own 2GB monthly data pool, separate from your iPhone’s data plan. That covers the use of any and all devices using your iPhone’s 3G data connection. The downside? Go over that amount, and each additional gigabyte will cost you another $20.

Though the availability of mobile hotspot features has broadened on carriers like Verizon and Sprint, AT&T has so far not introduced it on any of its phones, including the iPhone—presumably due to the carrier’s continuing struggle to keep up with iPhone users’ data demands. Reports suggest the feature will be available as of iOS 4.3, though, like the MMS feature in iOS 3.0, it will likely have to be enabled by carriers that choose to support it. (The iPhones at Verizon’s event were running a hitherto unreleased iOS 4.2.5).

By contrast, AT&T only offers the ability to tether a single device to the iPhone, via USB or Bluetooth, also for $20 per month. However, AT&T doesn’t provide an additional pool of data for tethering use; in order to use tethering, the customer must be subscribed to the iPhone’s $25 per month 2GB data plan, and any tethered devices count against that limit. Verizon’s offer of its existing mobile hotspot plans at the same price to iPhone owners marks one feature that differentiates it from AT&T.

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