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Tethering Briefly Comes To The iPhone, Tempers Flare

Macrumors reports that Apple’s App Store was selling a tethering app compatible with the iPhone (both 3G and EDGE) for a brief period earlier this evening. The $10 application, called NetShare, was developed by Nullriver software, and would be a godsend for many iPhone owners. After going up around 8PM EST to the elation of a lucky few, the application was pulled down around 20 minutes later.

Phone tethering allows users to access the internet from their laptop computers wherever they get service on their cellphone carrier’s data network. The feature is common on many phones with high speed (namely 3G) data access, and has been noticeably absent from iPhones. While 3G is typically slower than most Wi-Fi access points, having internet connectivity on the go is a huge plus for many people – enough so that many carriers charge on the order of $30 a month to enable it.

Users with jailbroken (hacked) iPhones have been able to enable tethering to their phones through a complicated process for some time, but such tethering is prohibited by AT&T’s terms of service. The release of NetShare seemed to indicate (albeit briefly) that AT&T had changed its mind on the matter.

Now, users who try to download the application are told that it is no longer available in their country. So what happened? The app may have snuck past Apple’s approval process – but with reported wait times of weeks (or months) it seems unlikely that anything appears there accidentally. Then again, Apple has been dealing with a massive influx of new applications – they may simply be overwhelmed and are getting sloppy.

It is also possible that the app was supposed to be limited to a few select countries, and was accidentally posted on the US store. Finally, AT&T may have really changed its mind, but it seems unlikely that they’d pass up the chance to tack one more fee on our data plans.

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