T-Mobile USA wireless subscribers will soon be allowed to use their smartphones as modems to bring Internet access to other devices including laptops, a T-Mobile representative confirmed today.
The blog the Boy Genius Report first reported the news, citing an internal memo from T-Mobile that outlined the new plan. According to the memo, starting November 3, smartphone subscribers with an HSPA or HSPA+ phone will be able to get up to 5GB of data service per month for an additional $14.99 a month. Once users exceed the 5GB threshold, T-Mobile will throttle and slow down the traffic, the memo says. To be eligible for the new service, customers will have to sign up for a $19.95 data plan or higher. It will be available for both postpaid customers on a contract and people subscribed to the FlexPay service.
A T-Mobile representative confirmed that the company plans to introduce a tethering plan, but was unable to confirm timing or pricing for the new service.
Up to this point, T-Mobile has not offered an official tethering service. But some customers have configured their devices to use their phones as a modem. Now those customers will be required to purchase a new plan, according to the report.
The new tethering option puts T-Mobile on par with some of its competitors, notably Verizon Wireless and AT&T, which also offer tethering options. But for consumers who can get access to T-Mobile's network, T-Mobile's plan could offer a much better deal.
Verizon offers its "Mobile Broadband Connect" service for smartphone users and advanced feature phone customers. Smartphone customers can get 2GB of data for an additional $20 per month. This service allows Verizon customers to connect up to five devices via Wi-Fi, but all these devices share the 2GB worth of data every month. Customers who exceed this cap are charged additional usage fees. Customers with advanced feature phones can also tether their devices. This package starts at $30 per month on top of an existing voice and data package and offers users 5GB of data. For $50 per month, subscribers can get up to 5GB of data on top of an existing voice package.
AT&T wireless customers can add tethering to their $25-a-month data plan for an extra $20 a month. This service will allow customers to share up to 2GB of data for the month between the smartphone and whatever device is tethered to the Internet via the smartphone.