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AT&T 'evaluating' Wi-Fi hotspot feature for iPhone 4, Verizon hotspot could pause for calls [Updated]

January 12, 2011 | 12:40 pm

VZiPhone4PersonalHotspot

The Verizon iPhone 4, officially unveiled Tuesday, touted one major feature over the Apple iPhones available from rival AT&T -- the Personal Hotspot.

A day later, AT&T says it's considering adding a similar Wi-Fi hotspot feature on its iPhone 4.

"We are evaluating the new mobile hotspot feature on the iPhone 4," said Mark Siegel, an AT&T spokesman. "That's about all we can say on that right now. It's something we're looking at and beyond that we don't have any further comment."

The Verizon Personal Hotspot feature allows up to five devices to surf the Web using a 3G-to-Wi-Fi signal emitted from the iPhone 4.

Verizon, however, also said Tuesday that it's not going to allow its version of the iPhone 4 to handle voice data and Internet data at the same time -- a feature that the AT&T iPhone does offer.

That restriction could result in a phone call crashing an Internet connection while a Verizon iPhone 4 is broadcasting Wi-Fi to other devices using the Personal Hotspot feature. 

Verizon officials said they weren't sure whether the Personal Hotspot feature would stop broadcasting Wi-Fi when a phone call came in, or whether a call might not get through when the feature is in use.

But, the Verizon spokespeople did say they'd get back to The Times' Technology blog. As soon as they do this post will be updated.

[Update 1:52 p.m.: A test conducted at the Times with an HTC Incredible on Verizon using the Personal Hotspot feature might be an indication of how the Verizon iPhone 4's Personal Hotspot feature could work.

When using the Personal Hotspot on the HTC Droid Incredible a Apple Macbook Pro laptop and an Apple iPhone on AT&T were able to surf the Web quite nicely.

Once a call was placed to the HTC Incredible, the Macbook Pro and iPhone were unable to continue loading the Websites and video.

As soon as the call was done, the Websites and video were able to load again, as long as the user refreshed the website or Video in a YouTube app.

Essentially, the Personal Hotspot paused its Wi-Fi to take the call, then began broadcasting Wi-Fi once the call was done.

Verizon officials have yet to return an answer to the Times as to how the iPhone's Personal Hotspot will work.

A thanks goes to Paul Thorton and Jon Healey of the Times for their help in conducting the test.]

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

twitter.com/nateog

Photo: A Verizon-issue Apple iPhone shows off its Personal Hotspot feature at a Verizon event in New York on Tuesday. Photographer: Ramin Talaie / Bloomberg News

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