What is tethering? For mobile communication, it means sharing an Internet-enabled device such as a phone's wireless capability with another device, usually a laptop through a wired connection or wirelessly through the Bluetooth connection if it is available.
Why is this significant? Well, if you're a mobile warrior, having a fast wireless connection enables you to work just about anywhere your Internet-enabled device has access to the Internet has access. The effect is untethering you from the clutches of your office, home, or the need for WiFi access.
For the most part, wireless providers provide rate plans and authorized equipments for this purpose. For example, Verizon offers variety of high speed wireless solutions ranging from tethering in the sense we've defined here to having a a wireless router solution. However, router solution does not provide the freedom tethering brings. Sprint also a great option for tethering.
This is significant as in an increasing mobile workforce. But so far, it is only seen as a temporary solution when Internet access is truly required. Most devices offer a degree of Internet access now such as to e-mails and text messaging.
Furthermore, WiFi access is a common place now and coverage is increasing day by day (onxo mobile tip: free WiFi access at Starbucks). I find WiFi more robust for wireless work and precludes the need for a phone to serve as the router, freeing up worries about battery life of the phone.
Keep in mind that you may have tether capability but depending on your service agreement with your wireless provider, tethering may not be allowed. It may result in cancellation of your contract and fees may be imposed on you. Furthermore, there could be limitations to how much data you are alloted a month. Going over that amount may result in additional charges.
Horror stories of bills in the thousands are not uncommon.
Impact: Last week, we noted the signification of the availability of an iPhone app, NetShare, that tethers the iPhone with a laptop. In the United States, the wireless provider is ATT, a traditional control freak over its network. Since it was made available, it was taken down, then put back up on the app store, only to be taken down hours later. So far there is no explanation.
Onxo believes Apple and ATT may be in discussion regarding the impact of such an app on the overall market.