Instant Hotspot is an Apple Continuity feature designed to seamlessly connect Apple devices to your iPhone's Personal Hotspot. The Personal Hotspot provides a Wi-Fi signal to nearby devices using the cellular data connection.
AT&T has thrown down the gauntlet, sending a limited number of subscribers warnings via email and SMS to stop unauthorized tethering. The wireless carrier plans to automatically sign up users for its DataPro and Personal Hotspot plans if they continue to tether their devices without contacting the company.
The move is a first for AT&T since they launched official Personal Hotspot support on March 11 with the release of iOS 4.3. Prior to this, iPhone users could only connect one computer to the iPhone. The new service makes it possible to share your 3G data connection with 3 devices at the same time via WI-Fi, and connect to others with Bluetooth and USB.
AT&T will charge $20 per month for iPhone 4 users to take advantage of the iOS 4.3 Personal Hotspot feature. The carrier has confirmed that full support for the Personal Hotspot will debut when Apple released iOS 4.3 firmware on March 11, 2011.
The native Wi-Fi hotspot has been available on Verizon iPhone 4 models since launch in early February. The feature allows up to three devices to simultaneously connect to the iPhone's cellular data connection via Wi-Fi. Additional devices can use the connection via Bluetooth and USB for a total of five at once.
AT&T must be feeling the heat when it comes to the upcoming Verizon iPhone. Without exclusivity the wireless company will find itself competing for every last iPhone customer in the US. Verizon made waves when it announced that the CDMA iPhone would offer a personal hotspot for up to five Wi-Fi devices.
AT&T is set to follow suit and has announced that it's working with Apple to bring the feature to the iPhone with iOS 4.3. Developer beta versions of the next generation firmware have indicated the personal hotspot is indeed on its way.
Some AT&T iPhone customers were shocked to see that the Verizon iPhone includes a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to five devices. Now that Apple has released the latest developer beta of iOS 4.3, it looks like all iPhones will be getting the feature. According to a report in BGR, Personal Hotspot is listed right under Wi-Fi under the Settings menu.
AT&T has not stated whether or not they plan to support the feature. For its part, Verizon hasn't mentioned data plan pricing yet, or whether or not tethering will cost extra. The app featured on the Verizon iPhone is actually native to iOS 4.2.5, the firmware running on the Verizon iPhone.