iphone 3g tethering att.pngWhen Apple announced that the iPhone would be capable of tethering a computer to the Internet a lot of customers in the U.S. shrugged their shoulders because AT&T wasn’t on the list of carriers who were ready to roll the service out. So even though the iPhone 3.0 software (released yesterday) supports tethering all AT&T customers won’t be able to take advantage of it, well, not in a legit way that is.

AT&T has pretty much just shot themselves in the foot because now this has started to make people look for a way to utilize the functionality without needing to Jailbreak their device. And they have done it. 9to5Mac has already posted instructions for an extremely simple 3-step process that will fully enable tethering on the iPhone 3G (and presumably the iPhone 3GS?). Plus you can choose whether you want to tether via Bluetooth or through the USB cable where your iPhone will be charged at the same time.

Sounds great, huh? There are a few things you should know before trying this out:

  1. You’ll need a Mac in order to get your iPhone ready for tethering. BUT once your iPhone has been setup this will also work on any Windows machine as long as you have iTunes installed. I tested it out on a Windows XP computer, and there were absolutely no problems accessing the Internet. If you do some searching you might find instructions on how to prep your iPhone using a Windows machine.
  2. You’ll likely have problems accessing your visual voicemail after applying the changes, and I eventually found that downloading the ICC file from here and using that instead fixed both. So I recommend using that file instead of the one from 9to5Mac. Reading through the comments on 9to5Mac will also tell you how to revert the changes if you want to go back to how it was.
  3. There’s no confirmation whether AT&T can recognize that you’re tethering, which means there is a possibility you’ll be charged extra.

I gave this a whirl despite the risk of seeing extra fees on my phone bill next month, and the results were rather spectacular. When stationary at my house I could get download speeds of about 2.3Mbps, and while rapidly moving on a train I consistently got between 0.9Mbps and 1.2Mbps.

There’s a very good chance that once AT&T finally lets people tether their devices that there will also be a hefty fee associated with it. I only tether a few times each month, and there’s no way that I’d ever pay for tethering if it was more than $10 a month since it’s not something I see as vital. So hopefully this “hack” will remain in working order, and any charges will stay clear of my bill. If that’s the case this trick is perfect for me.

If you don’t mind the risk of getting charged for tethering, and you have access to a Mac, check out the instructions.

P.S. I took the screenshot above to show you what the iPhone displays when you’re tethered.