It wasn't even a month ago that we heard
AT&T confess that while iPhone tethering was still on their roadmap, it really wasn't anywhere near the implementation stage. The carrier has been furiously working to build out their network in order to keep up with demand, and that task alone has been quite the challenge. It makes sense to think that tethering--which allows users to connect their phones to computers and allow the computer to leech off of the phone's Internet connection--would be a low priority for AT&T. Call/mobile service first, tethering second. We get it.
We don't necessarily like it, but we get it. As far back as a year ago, Apple
has stated that tethering would be coming to the iPhone, and even AT&T
admitted that plans were in place to make it happen. iPhone OS 3.0 brought tethering to quite a bunch of nations around the globe, and even today some users are legally tethering their phones via iPhone OS 3.0. But in America, the only way to tether an iPhone is to jailbreak it, mess with the carrier settings and use other workarounds in order to make it work. It's not supported, and it's not exactly easy.
But with iPhone OS 4.0 on the way to users this summer/fall (depending on device), various new betas have been floating out to developers. These builds are helping the development community prepare for the final release, and each new beta usually presents something new to end-users. The beta 4, which was released in the past 24 hours, has delivered a real whopper: an option to establish a tethering setup over AT&T. A legal, seemingly supported method to tether over AT&T's network. Users have found a pop-up pane that suggests an iPhone owner contact AT&T or visit their website to set up tethering, which is an option that wasn't even there in beta 3.
Is this the sign of impending tethering on AT&T? It's a certainty that it'll cost an extra $30/month when it does launch, making it a far less attractive option, but if the option arrives at all it will surely cause a stir. Wonder what surprises wait in beta 5...