Starting January 23, 2010 Smartone-Vodafone (SMV) will become an official Apple carrier partner in Hong Kong, along with 3 HK. May be this will mean that the two long awaited features: "Visual Voicemail" and "Tethering", will also be officially available to SMV customers (old and new). I was not able to get an official confirmation about this, as everyone I spoke to are keeping the SMV iPhone tariff plans and features very secretive. When Apple released version 3.1.2 of the iPhone OS, they disabled the long enjoyed tethering feature for iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS users in Hong Kong who are not 3 HK's customers. This arguably is not the right thing to do and does not make sense. As 5 out of the 7 carriers in HK offers iPhone tethering plans for their customers. Plus all iPhones purchased through official Apple channels are fully unlocked and full featured. When I spoke with AppleCare about the disappearance of tethering on my iPhone 3GS, they admit that tethering should be working for me (a SMV customer).

This is especially frustrating when a friend of mine who purchased his iPhone 3GS from 3 HK, but has since switched to SMV. He is able to see the "Enable Tethering" feature on his iPhone using the SMV SIM. Putting his SIM card into my iPhone 3GS, or replacing my SMV SIM card with a new one, did not correct the problem.

I hope my hypothesis about tethering and Visual Voicemail coming to SMV customers is correct, I guess in a bit over 1 week we will all know.