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iPhone 3G Tethering May Cripple AT&T's Network

Well, should it actually include tethering, that is. As tomorrow’s iPhone 3.0 preview it seems all anyone can talk about is the possibility of copy/paste. But there’s one rumor that has been consistently overlooked and that is the idea that iPhoners might soon be able to tether their iPhone to their PC and use it as a modem to connect to the web.

We couldn’t be more afraid. Before you lynch us, let us explain why. As it stands, AT&T’s 3G network is a bone of contention among users and although it has improved in recent months, all you have to do is get enough iPhones in one spot and the network groans under the pressure. Of course, it's not just iPhones on the network, but in terms of a 3G data-enabled phone, nothing uses the net like it.

A perfect example is SXSW. The event taking place in Texas this past weekend saw tons of iPhone users have trouble with the 3G network and AT&T was scrambling to put extra support in place for the “unprecendented” strain on the network. The same thing happened at CES where some users had to purposely turn off 3G just to get a data connection.

Given the current economic climate, as well as the number of iPhone owners, it’s hard to imagine anyone paying for WiFi at the airport or similar if they can just hook their iPhone up to their laptop. While 10 people at a local Starbucks isn’t going to be super heavy on AT&T’s network, the likes of CES, CeBit or E3 would be a completely different story. Tradeshows are notorious for having patchy WiFi because there are so many people trying to get online at the same time.

We for one, think that tethering could be seriously detrimental to 3G network, but what do you think? Leave your comments below! We contacted some industry experts to get their opinions, we’ll update when they get back to us with their answers.