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In the USA, where the new phone goes on sale from June 19 and there is only a single carrier, pricing is US$199 for a 16GB iPhone and $299 for a 32GB model. The older 8GB model has been reduced to US$99. All involve a two-year contract with carrier AT&T.

In Australia, the three major carriers compete with complex plans ranging from “zero upfront” to down payments of several hundred dollars, and hefty monthly payments, often accompanied by extra data download payments.

All three carriers are expected to support a new data “tethering” feature on the iPhone 3GS. This will enable the new iPhone to be used as a wireless modem, connecting a laptop to 3G networks.

A slide shown at yesterday’s announcement in San Francisco listed Telstra, Optus and Vodafone among the global carriers that would support tethering: a concept also used on some other smartphones including several Blackberry models. However Optus was the only carrier to confirm tethering plans in Australia yesterday.

The new iPhone can connect to HSDPA networks at 7.2Mbps. Tethering is understood to also be included on the new iPhone 3.0 operating software, to be released on June 17, which should make it available to users of older iPhone models.

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