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Tuesday, January 11, 2011, 09:00 am PT (12:00 pm ET)

Verizon iPhone offers Wi-Fi tethering but no simultaneous data and voice [u]

The new iPhone 4 from Verizon will come preinstalled with a free 3G Mobile Hotspot application for Wi-Fi tethering, but the new handset will not offer simultaneous voice and data connections like AT&T [updated].

Verizon customers who buy the new CDMA iPhone will find the carrier's custom 3G Mobile Hotspot application preinstalled, offering the ability to share a 3G data connection with up to five devices. The carrier will also offer access to other applications on the App Store like VZ Navigator and V CAST Media Manager.

Update: Though Verizon characterized the feature as an application, it is actually built in to a new version of iOS, called 4.2.5, that is found on the CDMA iPhone. It is possible that the feature could come to other carriers with the same update.

Currently, iPhone 4 customers on AT&T (and other carriers around the globe) must tether their iPhone to a laptop or compatible device via Bluetooth or USB. AT&T first enabled tethering last June after numerous delays, at a cost of $20 per month.

When asked if AT&T would offer a similar mobile hotspot application in the future, a company spokesman said they would not speculate on what they company may or may not do in the future.

While the Verizon hotspot will give it an advantage over AT&T, and allow tethering with devices like the Wi-Fi-only iPad, the company's CDMA network also has one major shortcoming that AT&T was quick to note: It is not capable of concurrent data and voice connections.

AT&T's HSDPA network allows users to browse the Web or load up applications via its 3G network while on a call, but Verizon's CDMA network does not. That also means that the 3G Wi-Fi hotspot feature would be disabled when a call comes in on the new iPhone.