With the iPhone 3G's significantly faster data transfer rates and ability to perform voice and data functions simultaneously, potential buyers have become intoxicated with the idea of tethering the device: using it as a cellular modem for laptops -- a service AT&T and other carriers offer for many other portable phones. iPhone Atlas has learned, however, that AT&T will not be offering tethering capabilities for the iPhone 3G.
AT&T offers an alternative data plan for various BlackBerry and Window Mobile devices that allows users to tether their phones to laptops use the phone as a wireless modem (see this AT&T Wireless page titled "Use handsets as wireless modems"). This is commonly referred to as a Phone-As-Modem (PAM) plan. It is offered as an alternative to other data plans for $65 monthly. Tethering is accomplished by using the devices supplied sync cable so no other equipment is required.
All of the devices that perform this function are 3G capable according to store representatives. These devices will allow the user to make voice calls during the data connection. The new iPhone 3G falls into this category, as it will support simultaneous voice and data calls.
However according to AT&T spokesman, Mark A. Siegel, who spoke with iPhone Atlas earlier this week, AT&T will not be supporting a PAM plan for the iPhone 3G. The only available data plan for the iPhone will be the new $30 consumer unlimited data and visual voice mail plan and the $45 business data plan. The latter is charged when a person makes an enterprise type connection to Exchange or a Blackberry server for email or messaging.
So if you are an iPhone user, you will theoretically have to purchase a separate device with its own data plan to use on your laptop or other computer. Nonetheless, enterprising hackers developed (albeit complicated) methods for tethering the first-generation iPhone, and will likely produce similar options for the iPhone 3G.