As expected, Verizon Wireless yesterday announced that a new CDMA variant of the iPhone 4 shall launch on their network next month. Among the several enhancements that this new iPhone will come with, one of the most talked about features is the support for a mobile hotspot.
The functionality will let users set up their iPhone as a wireless router that will let up to five devices access internet simultaneously with the iPhone’s 3G network.
So far, this feature has only been promoted on the upcoming Verizon iPhone. However, if a recent report from Netherlands-based iPhoneClub is anything to go by, the mobile hotspot functionality could also make its way to iPhones carried by networks like AT&T. The website claims that according to their reliable sources, Apple is working on a major iOS 4.3 update that could enable mobile hotspot on GSM networks as well. This firmware update is expected to happen before the Verizon iPhone launches next month.
Meanwhile, Boy Genius Report also claims that according to their source, the mobile hotspot feature will also come to GSM iPhones via the iOS 4.3 software update.
According to our source, the personal hotspot feature that debuted on the Verizon iPhone yesterday will, in fact, be making its way to all iPhones in iOS 4.3. We’re sure there will need to be carrier support for this feature, and for AT&T users it is entirely possible we might not see this right away.
Given that the credibility of the source is yet to be established, these claims need to be taken with a pinch of salt. But having said that, it makes sense for Apple to offer the functionality on the iPhone irrespective of the underlying network technology. Although Verizon and AT&T have a lot at stake to outdo one another in their bid to gain more iPhone subscribers, Apple would be looking at making their product features available universally to take on competition from Android. It is hence quite likely that the mobile hotspot functionality will be made available for both GSM and CDMA variants of the iPhone.
It is also important to note that Apple incorporating the mobile hotspot feature on iOS 4.3 will not automatically imply the availability of this service on AT&T. You may recall that AT&T had chosen to not offer USB tethering to iPhone users for nearly a year after being made available on iOS. BusinessInsider reports that Ma Bell is currently in the process of “evaluating” the mobile hotspot feature that has been announced on Verizon although the carrier has “no plans to announce today“.
The availability of the mobile hotspot functionality on the CDMA iPhone has given significant publicity to Verizon’s upcoming handset. It is important for AT&T to make an official announcement in this regard soon enough in order to retain customer attention. We will keep you updated on any official statements from the carrier as and when they are announced.
Do you want the mobile hotspot feature? Will you switch to Verizon if the feature is not available on AT&T’s iPhone?