Jul 242010

When the iPhone was first introduced, it was available on “unlimited” data plans although in reality “unlimited” meant “as much as we think is reasonable” with no indication of how much was reasonable. The first iPhone was also not capable of being “tethered” to a computer so the computer could use the phone as an Internet router – which was kind of odd as all other smart phones allowed that.

And then the iPhone acquired the tethering ability and the carriers insisted that customers pay extra for tethering. Which was sort of odd as no other smart phone required that. But it was sort of understandable as the iPhone had an “unlimited” data plan, and the ease of use had encouraged customers to make use of that “unlimited” data plan to the extent that many mobile networks suffered from a lack of bandwidth. The extra cost of tethering was a means of rationing how much bandwidth an iPhone customer could use.

But now with the iPhone4, all those “unlimited” data plans have mysteriously disappeared to be replaced with plans that limit you to 500Mb-1Gb per month. And yes you still have to pay extra for tethering. Why ?

Now that the data plan is no longer unlimited, why is there an extra charge for tethering ? Surely we are now in a situation where it does not matter what you use the data bandwidth for, but merely how much and whether you exceed the default limit. Those who want to exceed that limit pay more; those who want to tether only in an emergency don’t need to pay extra for something they do not need every day.

And yes I am one of those who would only use tethering in what to me are unusual circumstances – I don’t travel frequently and when I do travel, I have no great urge to ensure that I’m online. But just occasionally it may be useful – say if I’m contacted by work, as a laptop is far better to run an ssh client than an iPhone.

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