Update: Apple's order pages for the Verizon iPhone are live on the Apple Store, but of course you can't actually order a phone yet -- MobileCrunch suggests practicing your order process just for fun and to refine your plan selections. [Just kidding.]
Verizon Wireless spokesperson Brenda Raney confirmed that the personal hotspot add-on for the iPhone will cost US$20 per month and will provide 2 GB of data. The personal hotspot feature will let you share your cellular data connection with up to five devices via Wi-Fi. This 2 GB of data is separate from the $30 unlimited data plan and is allocated only for mobile hotspot usage. You should watch your usage closely as overages will be charged at a costly $20 per GB.
Rather than undercut its popular DROID lineup with a free mobile hotspot, the carrier decided to play it safe and offer iPhone owners the same rate as Android owners. Select Android handsets on Verizon include 3G mobile hotspot, and this service is billed at $20 for 2 GB of usage. Verizon does offer free mobile hotspot for the Palm Pre Plus and Pixi Plus, but that plan was adopted to boost sales of those webOS handsets. Judging by analysts' expectations, the Verizon iPhone won't need that additional boost.
Verizon may be the first carrier to offer personal hotspot on the iPhone, but it may not be last. Reports suggest the feature will be included in iOS 4.3 and will be rolled out worldwide. Similar to MMS in iOS 3.0, individual carriers will have the choice to enable this feature for its users. Now that Verizon has confirmed unlimited data and $20 personal hotspot, it will be interesting to see how AT&T responds. Any predictions?
*Verizon is currently in the process of acquiring AOL, Engadget's parent company. However, Engadget maintains full editorial control, and Verizon will have to pry it from our cold, dead hands.