Among the maelstrom of news, speculation and pricing details emerging about the new iPhone 4 (pre-orders starting next week), little has emerged about tethering (for the unitiated, that means connecting your iPhone to a laptop to provide a mobile broadband connection over 3G).
This feature's been available on O2, Orange and Vodafone on the 3GS but costs and the ease of setup have put it out of reach for the average laptop user on the move.
Whilst sales of mobile broadband dongles remain steady, if the iPhone's new handset and operating system makes it easy for people to connect to their laptops, and the networks make it cheap enough, could this cause a big dent in the mobile broadband market?
As yet, we don't know what the networks are going to charge in the UK, but AT&T (the iPhone's exclusive carrier in the US) have announced a $20 per month charge - which is hardly putting it in the hands of the masses.
Charges here in blighty for tethering on the major networks are stuck around £15 a month for a 3GB limit. With the heightened competition across five networks, this could be one way for the networks to get an edge - cheap, easy tethering would be a massive benefit for iPhone users.
The great white hope here may be 3 - having just announced they're carrying the iPhone, 3 pride themselves on fast, cheap 3G internet, so this could be the leg-up they need to get people to make the switch.
Apple's iPad comes in 3G and WiFi only models - but those people hoping to connect their WiFi iPad to their iPhone to get online on 3G networks will be disappointed. Apple don't allow this, so for the iPad at least, you'll need to shell out the extra £100 or so to browse in the park.
We'll keep you posted!
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