AT&T announces Hotspot, new tethering plan similar to Verizon's

AT&T announced today that it will be launching a mobile hotspot feature, allowing mobile phones to share Internet through Wi-Fi with multiple devices, and changed its current tethering plans, making them more competitive with Verizon's.

The news comes the day before pre-orders for the Verizon iPhone begin; one of the several ways Verizon has been marketing their network as superior to AT&T's is by touting the hotspot feature, which currently works with up to five connected devices.

While AT&T didn't say exactly how many devices its service can support simultaneously, they did add on an extra 2GB of data for their current tethering plans. AT&T presently has two data plans for smartphones: DataPlus for $15 a month, which allows for 200MB of data usage; and DataPro for $25 a month, which allows for 2GB of data usage. It use to be that customers were charged another $20 just for the ability to tether their smartphone to their computer, but now the fee will allow for tethering and increase customers' data quota to 4GB.

"We want to extend the benefits of an additional 2GB to smartphone customers on our tethering plan. This delivers more value today for the price they're already paying – and that's what our customers want[,]" the company said in a statement today.

The new hotspot feature and tethering plan will launch on February 13th, alongside the launch of the HTC Inspire 4G. AT&T did not specify if they will bring the hotspot feature to the iPhone once iOS 4.3 is rolled out to compete with Verizon. Although, a spokesperson told Wired.com that "[AT&T is] working with Apple to bring it to iPhone."

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