Every time the AT&T tethering tax comes up, someone whines “it should be included!” Well, yes, it should. But it’s not. Does that instantly mean it’s a bad deal? Not really. Don’t look at the cheapest possible interpretation. Instead, look at what it would cost to get the feature any other way (which is, of course, how they’re pricing it to get the most out of you).

Let’s do some numbers.

Option Price Total
DataPro + Tethering   $25 + $20   $45
Clear $55-951 $55+

Yes, you can whine that it should be included, and you’d have a point. But it’s still cheaper for remote access than the alternative. And with 4.3 coming out with the hotspot, you get another freebie if you have a 3G iPad…

Option Price Total
DataPro (iPhone + iPad) $25 + $25 $50
DataPro (iPhone) + Tethering   $25 + $20   $45

You save five bucks and get a hotspot for your computer to boot. Bada-boom. And if you’re still on the unlimited plans (and aren’t using them past 2GB/month) then you save $5-10 more with the switch!

So no, not the best deal, but there ARE ways to make it work for you if you think about it. I did the math and, for me, it works out great when the hotspot feature comes out. For $45 I get access for all my devices for light use anywhere in town. Email, web, some video and files, but not a lot. The bump to 4GB of data? Icing on the cake. I was already sold.

It’s all about use cases, folks.

1 This is the tier that includes 3G service.

February 03, 2011