So I currently have an iPhone with a data plan.  I’m actually paying $5 less / month on it than I was originally supposed to (long story), but the short story is that because I was an existing Rogers customer that signed up for a new 3-year contract with the Customer Relations department, I was able to get something like this:

My iPhone 3-year contract (from Oct 2008):

250 weekday minutes
Unlimited evenings and weekends (starting at 6 PM)
unlimited incoming calls
caller id
100 Canadian long distance minutes
[system access fee and 9-11 included)

1GB e-mail & data plan

Total: $37.45 per month (+ tax)
[System access fee $6.95/month and 9-11 $0.50/month INCLUDED]

But that’s not the point of my blog post. The point of my blog post is to talk about the new iPhone OS 3.0 (firmware) update that was just released today (June 17th, 2009) at 1PM EST.

I’m most excited about the improved Javascript speed and Safari browser enhancements… AND the ability to “tether” your iPhone to your computer.  Basically, that lets you use either a USB cable or Bluetooth to connect your iPhone to your laptop (or desktop) and browse the Internet using your computer from wherever your iPhone gets a cell signal!  Amazing!

Reports say that for us Rogers customers here in Canada with iPhones and a data plan of 1GB or more (prior to June 8th, 2009), we will have tethering free until the end of the year.  I phoned up Rogers support and they told me that I have a 6-month credit for tethering, which works out to the end of the year.  For new Rogers customers signing up with 1GB or larger data plans from June 8th till Dec 31st, they get tethering free as part of their data plan.  I have a hunch they will try to charge us older customers for tethering come 2010. (grr)

Here is one speed test I ran from speedtest.net – it measured a 1.78 Mb/s (that’s about 227.84 kB/s) download speed and a 0.33 Mb/s (42.24 kB/s) upload speed.  *Note: Mb/s is not megabytes (MB) per second – it’s megabits per second.  kB/s is kiloBYTES per second.  The capital ‘B‘ makes all the difference. P.S. there are 8 bits in one byte.

Quick side note: I don’t think your usage statistics in your iPhone take into account data use while tethered.  If this is true, that makes it really hard to keep track of tethered data usage (which is way higher on average than browsing off your mobile device)

If you’re wondering how to update your iPhone to OS version 3.0 and enable tethering:

  1. Connect your iPhone to iTunes (version 8.2 or newer)
  2. Update the firmware to 3.0
  3. Say ‘yes’ to the new Rogers carrier update (it’s a 10kB .ipcc in case you were curious)
    You can check that under Settings>General>About, that the “Carrier” item says Rogers 4.1
  4. Go into Settings>General>Network>Internet Tethering and select ON
    I prefer to use USB only because it charges my iPhone, is theoretically faster, and because my laptop doesn’t even have Bluetooth 😛

If you’re a Windows user, Windows should automatically recognize your iPhone as a new ethernet device and you will be able to start surfing!  If you’re a Mac user, you might want to read this.  Here’s the strange thing, though – when I check my Windows Task Manager (or the properties of my iPhone ethernet connection), it says that the Link Speed is 500kbps.  That’s slower than what my 3G iPhone can do, and it’s slower than what speedtest.net measured my tethering speed through my iPhone to be.  Theoretically speaking, the Link Speed is the maximum speed that I can get through that connection, so it’s weird that I measured at 1.78Mb/s (i.e. ~1823 kbps) which is much higher than my 500 kbps Link Speed.  I’m more inclined to believe the speedtest.net result because that’s similar to what other iPhone tethering users have experienced, and I know my USB 2.0 connection is capable of 480Mbps (~491,520 kbps).  Even the old USB 1.1 standard is capable of 11Mbps.

Fullscreen capture 6172009 41935 PM.bmp

Anyhoo, there are a ton of other improvements with the iPhone OS 3.0 update (click here).  Most of them are pretty cool, but pretty minor.  A huge thing that a lot of us have been waiting for is the ability to COPY & PASTE.  Blackberries have been able to do that since forever, lol, but iPhone users have had to wait a couple of years.  I’m more excited about the handy new built-in app to record voice memos and the ability to search through everything stored on your iPhone, including contacts, e-mails, and notes!

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