All iPhones reported to get Personal Hotspot with iOS 4.3

Feature will be available for Verizon iPhone launch on Feb. 10, could come after March for AT&T

All iPhones will reportedly have the Personal Hotspot capability similar to what Verizon Wireless announced Tuesday for its iPhone coming Feb. 10.

Carriers will have to support the feature giving Wi-Fi access to up to five devices. It's not clear how soon the capability would come to AT&T, whose role as the exclusive seller of the iPhone in the U.S ended with Verizon's announcement.

The Personal Hotspot feature is enabled in all iPhones in the upcoming iOS Version 4.3, according to a Wednesday posting in Boy Genius Report.

Apple officials could not be reached to comment on the report, but BGR relied on an unnamed source to confirm the existence of the Personal Hotspot capability in iOS 4.3. BGR showed screenshots that included the Personal Hotspot feature under Wi-Fi and Airplane Mode settings in an iPhone interface.

Technical acceptance of the feature is planned for March, meaning Verizon would have a head start on other carriers, including AT&T.

Pricing for Personal Hotspot has not been announced for the Verizon iPhone, although Verizon currently charges $20 a month for 2GB on Wi-Fi connections on its Android phones and through USB and MiFi modems on laptops. Personal Hotspot will connect the Verizon iPhone to up to five Wi-Fi-capable devices.

Some analysts say Verizon might combine the cost of its unannounced data fees for the iPhone with the Personal Hotspot capability. One analyst, Rob Enderle at Enderle Group, said the monthly cost for both unlimited data and Personal Hotspot could reach $120 a month on top of voice and texting charges.

A Verizon spokesman on Tuesday said the company will announce all service charges for the iPhone later but did not give a date. However, another Verizon spokeswoman said Wednesday that hot spots currently cost $20 monthly for 2GB, adding, "and to my knowledge that won't change."

AT&T could not be reached to comment on when or whether it will support Personal Hotspot in its iPhones, although it supports similar capability on other devices.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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