I’ve always been wary of rooting any phone with a two-year contract, but the appeal of being able to tether my smartphone wirelessly to get an Internet connection on other devices has been tough to resist. Luckily, Verizon has solved the problem for me. At least until next Wednesday. Back in March, Verizon started offering a free Mobile Hotspot app on new 4G phones, and a couple weeks ago, the telco extended the limited-time promotion through July 6th.
The good news? Verizon’s Mobile Hotspot is ridiculously easy to use, and it worked flawlessly for me. One click turns the hotspot on. Then it’s just a matter of selecting the (WPA2-protected) network on your secondary device and typing in a short password. I used the hotspot on the DC metro to extend network access to my Wi-Fi-only iPad. My mobile broadband speed was limited in the subway, but it was enough to download a new iPad app, and it would be enough to publish a blog post from my netbook if needed.
The bad news? When Verizon’s promotional period ends next Wednesday, the Mobile Hotspot isn’t going to be cheap. We don’t know the pricing details yet, but current guesses hover around $30 a month, or possibly $20 a month with a 2GB data cap. Given how often I’m likely to need tethering, either price is way above my comfort zone. It took years for me to suck it up and get a $30-per-month data plan. I’m not going to double that just to be able to share an existing wireless connection. Usually I either have access to Wi-Fi or can make do with my smartphone. If I had to share my mobile broadband connection, I’d certainly be willing to pay a fee if I went over my monthly data allowance. However, just paying for the privilege to share an existing connection? That’s a bit much. Verizon could sucker me in for a small fee, say $5 a month, but at $20 or $30, forget it. I’ll enjoy my hotspot for a few more days, and go back to a sad, but affordable tether-free existence on July 6th.