AndroidGuys brings news of another tastey tidbit that may be in Froyo (Android 2.2), built-in USB and Wi-Fi tethering. Froyo is the code name for Android 2.2, which is expected to be officially unvieled during the Google I/O conference on May 19. Tethering enables users to connect computers to mobile phones and use the phone’s Internet connection. PDAnet and EasyTether are two programs that add USB tethering to existing versions of Android, but to date Wi-Fi tethering is not possible without jailbreaking the phone.
Wi-Fi tethering basically turns mobile phones into a Wi-Fi access point. It is the same concept as the “Mi-Fi” cellular hotspots sold by Verizon and Sprint, and Palm Pre Plus owners currently have the ability to use their phones as Wi-Fi hotspots. WMWiFiRouter, which Todd has written about, turns Windows Mobile phones into Wi-Fi hotspots. In the cases where mobile carriers officially support tethering, they usually charge an extra fee. T-Mobile has been the exception and has historically been supportive of tethering, though the roll out of their HSPA+ Internet service, which can provide speeds up to 21 GB, might cause T-Mobile to start charging for tethering on that higher speed network. The bottom line is that while Google may announce that tethering is built-in to Android 2.2, the carriers could chose to strip it out or charge extra to use it.