image via The iPhone Blog
It's fortunate that there are other options for tethering to your iPhone, because AT&T has made it clear that they are not going to provide one anytime soon. While they have been pushing tethering to Blackberry users, the carrier has been reluctant to commit to anything for its "Hummer of smartphones" customers. Seth Weintraub at 9to5Mac.com was feeling bullish on AT&T tethering by end-of-year until he got the following curt message from at AT&T spokesman:
Just reading again – where did anyone promise tethering by EOY? Where did you see that? We promised MMS by end of summer and ended up being a few days late for that…
AT&T Mobility chief Ralph de la Vega confirmed on Thursday that iPhone 3G users will be able to use their phones as wireless modems at some point next year. (2009) De la Vega made the comments during a conversation with TechCrunch's Michael Arrington at the Web 2.0 Summit on Thursday....It's not clear when AT&T will roll out the tethering service; some point in 2009 appears to be the only stated time frame
So what gives? Certainly, blog rumors and the nonspecific comments of corporate executives with shareholders to impress should not be treated as bankable promises. At the same time, AT&T is far from an undisciplined startup of an organization... even offhand remarks by its higher-ups are doubtless carefully scripted.
If the reason for the delay around data tethering to the iPhone is to allow time for the announced buildout of expanded infrastructure, that's certainly to the good. AT&T has gotten burned - and rightly so - for selling millions of smartphones they didn't have the network to support. The carrier should have a care about yanking the chain of its userbase, however. Some of us may be such iPhone enthusiasts that we're willing to be creative to get the services we need or want. The non-jailbreaking masses, however, may simply decide to go elsewhere.