AT&T: MMS Coming to iPhone September 25; No Word on Tethering

Apple iPhone
Apple iPhone

U.S. mobile operator AT&T hasn’t been winning over the hearts and minds of very many iPhone users: while many un-demanding users are reasonably happy with AT&T’s service offerings, power users, frequent travelers, and folks who truly rely on their mobile devices have been less than pleased—and even Apple itself has indicated significant dissatisfaction with its carrier partner, citing poor network performance, low data transfer rates, and dropped calls. With Apple’s iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3.0 update, the dissatisfaction got worse, with Apple announcing support for MMS messages and tethering capabilities on 22 carriers in over 40 countries…and AT&T conspicuously absent from the list.

Now, AT&T has announced it is ready to bring MMS messaging to iPhone 3G and 3Gs users, with the capability going live on September 25. AT&T blames the delay in supporting MMS with upgrading its MM network infrastructure to handle the “expected record volumes” of MMS traffic generated by iPhone users. AT&T claims that wireless use on its network has grown more than 350 percent per year for the last two years, and AT&T is carrying an unrivaled amount of data to and from smartphones.

But those same network load issues are still holding back tethering—the ability to use a phone’s cellular data capabilities to power an Internet connection for a notebook or other device. Although AT&T initially said tethering would be available by the end of summer, the company has yet to announce any concrete plans to bring tethering capabilities to the iPhone—which leaves iPhone owners still gnashing their teeth over AT&T’s service.