By Seth Weintraub
May 13, 2010

But how will Android’s carriers react to a service that some have been charging up to $30/month for, now coming built in?

The hits keep coming with Android’s soon-to-be-released Froyo 2.2 OS.  We know it will have Flash 10.1 baked-in and will scream compared to previous versions of the OS.

Today, Techcrunch publishes a screenshot of a tethering control panel which seems to indicate that Android will now have the ability to tether, or connect to the internet, built into the OS.  The two means of tethering are via USB or as a hotspot.  It wasn’t clear if Bluetooth would be an option.

What does this mean for the carriers?  Just yesterday, Sprint announced that it would be charging an additional $30/month for the EVO’s hotspot functionality.  Verizon (VZ) offers a free hotspot on the Palm (HP) Pre, but also sells its Mifi hotspot devices for $60/month.

It is likely that the carriers will have control over how the tethering is used.  In fact, AT&T (T) already does this.

One of the major criticisms of AT&T’s iPhone is that they haven’t enabled Apple’s (AAPL) Bluetooth/USB tethering control panel to work on their network.  One of the most compelling reasons to jailbreak an iPhone is to enable this functionality.

AT&T, unlike other US carriers doesn’t seem to support the ‘Mifi model’ where they sell a hotspot to connect all of your devices to one plan.  AT&T would rather sell you a separate plan for each individual device.  For instance, if you have an iPhone, and iPad and a MacBook, you’ll need three seperate plans to get all three devices hooked up to the Internet using AT&T.

They can do that because Apple plays along with them.  If they lose Apple’s product exclusivity, it might be a different ballgame.

Verizon’s Pre Plan, conversely, allows you to buy one plan for your Pre and use the device as a gateway for up to five other devices.  That means you can attach your iPad to the Internet through the Pre as well as your laptop.  Then your spouse and two kids can also connect as well.  In the long run, that will save customers a lot of money, especially as VoIP services become more ubiquitous and voice plans are no longer mandatory.

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