One of the few distinctive differences of Verizon’s iPhone 4 which was announced yesterday is that unlike AT&T, it includes a Personal Hotspot to turn your phone into a Wi-Fi hub and share your wireless internet with up to 5 devices. AT&T iPhone 4 owners may be making puppy-dog eyes over not getting the feature, but don’t worry – rumour has it that a global iOS update due to land in March will bring the Personal Hotspot feature beyond just the Verizon iPhone.
An iPhone hotspot will be a nice additional feature, but even once Apple’s done cooking up the software, what carriers do with it may be a huge bottleneck. AT&T, for example, only provided iPhone tethering this summer after promising it over a year earlier. Part of the delay may rely on getting the pricing infrastructure in place, or in AT&T’s case, building out their network so they can handle the added load a mobile hotspot feature would add, but now that Verizon is offering a viable alternative, you’d think their network congestion would lessen. That being said, the longer Verizon is the only one with personal hotspot on the iPhone 4, the more AT&T is bound to bleed customers (not that they needed any more reasons).
As Will continually points out, there have been third-party Wi-Fi hotspot solutions available for awhile, if it’s a feature you’re really gung-ho about using and don’t feel like waiting for something official.