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iOS 4.3, Personal Hotspots & O2

Those of you that follow Apple will have noticed this week that they released iOS 4.3 to developers – iOS being the operating system which runs the iPhone, iPad and AppleTV.  While there are a number of tweaks in the latest beta release there are two main features which have been widely publicised:  AirPlay for Video and Personal Hotspots.  I want to discuss the personal Hot Spots, because I was excited enough about this to go and download the new version of iOS straight away…

What is Personal Hotspot.

MiFi Hotspot
MiFi Hotspot – You’ll still need one.

Personal Hotspot will allow you to turn your phone into a wireless network, and connect up to 5 devices to it to share it’s 3G data connection.  It will become a sort of MiFi.  I am interested in it because I currently carry around (and pay for) a 3G mobile broadband dongle so I can use my laptop if I am away from WiFi, and this would do away with this as I could just connect my laptop to my iPhone’s Wireless Network.

This is a feature which the iPhone needs to keep up with a number of Android handsets which already have the WiFi hotspot capability.

I currently pay 3 £15 a month for 15Gb of data through my dongle, although I rarely use that much.  I am allowed 500Mb of Data on my O2 iPhone tarriff, so I expected to pay a bit more to allow more data using the hotspot feature.

Tethering & O2 Bolt On.

Sure enough, to use the Hotspot feature your iPhone has to be enabled for tethering – which requires a bolt on from O2.  Further research though suggests it is a terrible value bolt on.  O2 want £7.50 for 500Mb a month.   So to get the same allowance I have from 3 I would have to pay £225 a month.    A complete and utter rip-off – now I remember why I never had it in the first place.

To make things worse Android users can already use their inclusive 500Mb allowance through their WiFi hotspot without having to pay anything extra.  Oh, and 3 offer “all you can eat data” on their iPhone tarriffs (although it does make reference to not using phone as a modem)…

… are O2 trying to cripple the iPhone? They need new tariffs before this feature goes public (estimated March), or it is an expensive feature which Android users get free!!

7 thoughts to “iOS 4.3, Personal Hotspots & O2”

  1. I completely agree. O2 need to get their act together. As the original iPhone network they need to be leading the way and using their wide iPhone customer base and history with the device to be offering better deals than all the new-comers to iPhone market. They should be showing the likes of ‘3’ and ‘Vodafone’ a clean pair of heels as they take control of what was a 100% O2 market not long ago.

    Personally unless they sort out niggles such as this one I’ll be jumping ship. I’ve been on a one-month rolling contract for over a year now as I knew after my initial 18 months with them my patience would run out sooner or later. I feel that may be soon….

  2. Too true. I needed exactly this facility last month when I was working from a location without broadband facilities, but needed access from my laptop for business. I ‘borrowed’ the HTC Desire that I bought my wife for Christmas, and the mifi feature on it was a lifesaver. Having read that iOS 4.3 had this built-in, I downloaded and installed today. What do you know – O2 have blocked it unless you splash the cash 🙁 Very poor. That’ll teach me – in future, include the network supplier name in the ‘iOS 4.3 personal hotspot’ google!

    I’m on an 18-month contract with O2, which expired a few months ago, but have been hanging around waiting for the next generation iPhone (mine is a 3GS). What with their poor network coverage, and scams like this with mifi, I’m counting down the days until I can leave them behind.

  3. Yep, if this isn’t free (from the LIMITED data allowance I’m ALREADY PAYING FOR) I’m gonna jailbreak, then leave O2 when my contract expires.

    God, I hate O2. Recently they screwed up my internet access with their age restriction thing without any warning or notification at all. First thing I noticed was Google Translate stopped working, I didn’t know why until I read about it in the paper!

  4. I have just downloaded 4.3to both my O2 and Vodafone 3G iPhones. Tested mobile Hotspot with my Vodafone and my WiFi only iPad having switched the WiFi off. Worked brilliantly via Bluetooth. Makes my iPad more useful when out and about so long as I have Vodafone 3G. Well pleased.

    Tried the same with my O2, but as you say, it’s not automatic like Vodafone and their website is down if you are mad enough to pay them £7.50 extra – you can’t!! I only pay Vodafone £20 a month SIM only anyway! Plus with Vodafone’s £2 a day data pack when abroad, which was brilliant, O2 need to learn some serious lessons -fast!! Well done Vodafone though. and no – I don’t work for them or have any connection – other than my £20 a month contract!

  5. This may not apply to personal users, but I was able to add tethering to my account for less than £1 on my O2 business account, and it uses my existing data allowance (500Mb standard iPhone bolt-on). The £7.50 one gives you an additional 500Mb, but for occasional use that’s far too expensive. Give customer services a call before assuming you can’t get it.

  6. I just tried to connect my MacBook Air via my iPhone4 to 3G the other day and came across this issue. The deal is crazy from O2. As the author said above O2 contact customers are already paying for data traffic usage as part of the contract and having to pay more to get a built in feature working is sickening.

    I also doubt many people have opted to do this. O2 would make more money if they allowed people to use this up to their monthly limit and then charged a flat rate for traffic used over the set quota for the contract you are on.

    Any one found any work around to this other than jailbreaking?

  7. Thanks for commenting! Nope, I’ve not found a work around; the one which did exist was closed down. I have resorted to a 3 MiFi, which is £15 a month for 15Gb. I’ll be moving network again as soon as contract is up too.

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