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Wednesday, February 02, 2011, 12:30 pm PT (03:30 pm ET)

AT&T to expand tethering data cap to 4GB for $45 per month

AT&T on Wednesday announced that "select smartphone customers" will be able to access the AT&T Mobile Hotspot application for sharing a handset's 3G data connection with other devices, offering 4GB of data per month with tethering for $45.

The press release sent out by AT&T made no mention of the iPhone 4 or its Personal Hotspot feature expected to be introduced with iOS 4.3. The company noted that the first handset to support the new tethering plan will be the HTC Inspire 4G, launching in its stores on Feb. 13.

On Feb. 13, AT&T will automatically add an additional 2GB of monthly data use to smartphone customers who are already on its $20-per-month tethering plan. The additional data will be given at no extra charge.

Customers on the existing $25-per-month DataPro plan will remain with 2GB of data per month. Those who opt for the $20 tethering plan will be given the additional 2GB of data, which will be applied to collective use among all devices.

For users who go over the monthly data cap, AT&T will charge the standard overage fee of $10 per gigabyte.

"Our customers want to connect as many devices as possible to the nation's fastest mobile broadband network, which is getting faster with 4G," said David Christopher, chief marketing officer, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. "We want to extend the benefits of an additional 2GB to smartphone customers on our tethering plan. This delivers more value today for the price they're already paying - and that's what our customers want."

The expanded data plans with tethering will debut just three days after Apple's iPhone 4 launches on the Verizon network in the U.S. on Feb. 10. That handset will launch with the Personal Hotspot feature built-in.

AT&T launched its DataPro plan with a 2GB cap for $25 per month in June of 2010, replacing the previous $30 plan for unlimited data. At that time, the carrier also began offering the ability to tether an iPhone's 3G data connection via Bluetooth or USB for an additional $20 per month, but offered no extra bandwidth cap space.