AT&T lagging behind in iPhone 3.0 feature deployment

Yesterday Apple announced the iPhone 3GS which is an upgrade with several new features including video recording, MMS, and tethering. The only problem is that if you're on AT&T you won't be getting MMS and tethering until either later this summer for MMS and an unknown date in the future for tethering.

A bigger mystery is why MMS is being delayed for rollout? Nearly all phones on AT&T's network already supports this feature and yet it can't seem to offer that option to iPhone users who are already paying more for their service yet get less features than other phone users.

Looking back to the iPhone launch the reason for delaying the MMS launch can probably be attributed to its data network. AT&T recently went on the offensive against Slingbox saying that its software would clog up its 3G network. Also those who attended the South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival this year their 3G data trickled to a halt after the network became over saturated with users wanting to use their 3G devices.

According to Boy Genius Report, the reason why AT&T won't directly support MMS "is because AT&T has to manually remove all the 'Opt Out MMS codes' on each account." Has AT&T never heard of a batch process?

What point does this lead too? AT&T keeps its 3G alive by barely meeting bandwidth requirements, a Neowin comment by Shunik Jan "[s]adly their 3G is still behind. Yesterday in a 5-bar area I only got dialup speeds of no more than 30KB/s". Is the real reason that AT&T isn't offering MMS because they are afraid that their network can not handle the added strain? MMS, unlike SMS, travels over the data network and with AT&T having several million iPhone users using 3G for MMS, which is already stretched, could 3G be brought down by MMS happy iPhone users? But according to a quote from Ars Techinca by AT&T " 'We absolutely will offer MMS on iPhone 3G S in the late summer, once we complete some system upgrades that will ensure our customers have the best experience with MMS,' Bloom told Ars. 'These upgrades are unrelated to our 3G network,' he added."

AT&T doesn't stop by not offering MMS right away but it also won't be allowing tethering until some point in the future. In the vaguest statement offered by AT&T they said with regards to tethering "[AT&T] will be offering tethering on the device -- it just doesn't have any announcements to make at this time". The real reason may reside in that AT&T wants to see how much it could charge for the service before making any statements about offering the service.

Knowing that AT&T will be charging for tethering doesn't come as a surprise but if your looking to upgrade your iPhone expect to be screwed over again by AT&T. If you're an existing customer and are looking to upgrade your current phone to an iPhone 3GS, be prepared to pay anywhere from $399-$699.99 depending on your contract and upgrade eligibility.

Because of carrier exclusivity agreements it's the end user who gets harmed because they do not have the option of using a phone of their choosing on the network they prefer. All operators are guilty of exclusivity agreements, AT&T with the iPhone, Verizon with the Blackberry Storm, Sprint with the Pre and T-Mobile with the G1. Hopefully one day soon these contracts will be outlawed in favor of consumer choice, but until then, everyone must play the cards that have been dealt.

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I hate at&t services. You'd expect a city with 80,000+ people to have 3G. NOPE! They even advertise their 3G phones in the city too. What a shame at&t!

1st of all why would you pay any company 2x's for the same feature. I'm sorry but if I pay for unlimited data plan already for my cell phone, why do I need to pay again for unlimited data plan using my phone connected to my pc. That is double dipping, and in some places i understood that was illigal.
2nd (and I am sad to say this) in the rest of the world the business attitude is "if we build it they will come", in the US the attitude is "we better have them here before we even talk about building it".
3rd - There are alternatives out there. I'm not an iPhone user and happy that I'm not (Sprint user here). I use for my sprint account PDAnet since I dont believe I should pay 2x's for the same unlimited data plan. No way was i paying sprint an extra $30 a month to use my data plan via my laptop that I paid $15 for already each month. http://junefabrics.com/index.php and June fabrics already has a tether software option for the iPhone and for Android.
Lastly, I used to live in St Louis and I have no idea what Xenomorph is talking about. I was a sprint user the entire time and i got a good signal and was able to make call everywhere from Edwardsville in the east to downtown STL to O'Fallen in the west and Kirkwood/Belleville in the south. If your not getting a good signal often get a better phone, the free with plan phones normally do !@#$. (And somehow Im willing to bet thats what you have)

Oh and I dont work for Sprint - AT&T - Apple or Junefabrics.....I just get !@#$@ when I hear people bitch about technology things when there are alternatives....everything in technology has an alternative.....if you dont like it, do some research and find the alternatives. The alternatives will NOT just fall on your lap, they will take some effort on your part (OH NO I said effort....I used that E word!)

How can you say you dont see the need to pay more. The bandwidth a phone can use in a month is no where near the bandwidth a tethered pc could eat up. The physical storage space limitation of the phone is dwarfed when compared to the storage space of even the most modest "non-eee type" laptops, meaning even if you downloaded all the time you would eventually hit some sort of storage ceiling with a phone... laptops not so much.

So of course you have to pay more to have that type of service.

Veritas1 said,
How can you say you dont see the need to pay more. The bandwidth a phone can use in a month is no where near the bandwidth a tethered pc could eat up. The physical storage space limitation of the phone is dwarfed when compared to the storage space of even the most modest "non-eee type" laptops, meaning even if you downloaded all the time you would eventually hit some sort of storage ceiling with a phone... laptops not so much.

So of course you have to pay more to have that type of service.

But they advertise their service as being unlimited. To me, this should mean the only cap you have is based on available bandwidth and signal reception.

They want to sell tethering as feature because they can. Just like how they charge extra for text messaging. Even though text messaging uses an extremely small fraction of their network's bandwidth, people will pay for it so they charge for it. I don't see anything wrong with companies doing this. I don't see anything wrong with customers bitching about it.

But thats not how they advertise it. "$20 (or whatever your carrier shows) gets you unlimited data". If they dont believe that this is a cost effective function then say your unlimited plan is $50 dollars. Dont tell me its $20 plus $15 for this and $15 for that and $25 for this.....
Its like me seeling cars, telling you that i have this wonderful car for $8999, but wait you want seats that will be $100 and seat belts $100 and windsheld whipers (yes i sell you the windshield) are extra $250. In my book thats bait and switch because by the time you figure out everything a plan can and cant do, your stuck with a 2 yr (or more deal) or a big $#@#$! buyout.....so you get stuck paying your choice being bend over or bend over and grab your ankles which do you prefer.

Wanted to shed some light on why it is going to take a while to change the MMS feature.

Full disclosure I work for AT&T Mobility

The reason why it is going to take a while to effect the change is because there is a data code on every iPhone's account that blocks mms capability so MMS messages can be forwarded to a website and iPhone users can still receive them via a website through the safari browser. We need the 3.0 software / 3Gs software to launch before we can start effecting the changes that removes this "soc" code for every iPhone account of which there are millions.

Secondly, the person that claimed our 3g network was slow around dial up speeds needs to check his facts. 30KB/s is roughly equivalent to 360Kb/s connection which is 5x better then the fastest dial up modem i remember which was 56Kb/s or roughly 6KB/s

The final 3.0 release shouldn't need to be out for AT&T to get rid of the "MMS opt out" feature. I am a tester and contacted them about it, because in some of the betas MMS was enabled. They told me they wouldn't do anything about it until the official release of the 3.0 firmware. They could have easily changed it for me at that time if they wanted. And if you say they couldn't, then you are just making excuses for AT&T. There is absolutely no reason for the opt out to begin with. The phone software itself never supported it. They could enable it right now and the phones without the 3.0 firmware really wouldn't notice a difference. The website it currently sends you to now is totally worthless and rarely even works.

I think you missed the point. The old software couldn't receive MMS. ATT still wanted you to be able to receive MMS even though firmware 2.x didn't support it. So to do that they would send the MMS to a web server and then send out a plain txt SMS to you with a link to their web site to view the full MMS message. If ATT turned this off right now then people that aren't running 3.0 (most) would no longer receive MMS. Sure they could probably disable the "soc" code for users that call in and requests it but ATT isn't going to going to get involved in that sort of mess. They are most likely going to wait a month after the update to give people plenty of time to update and then turn off the "soc" code. This makes total sense to me.

Veritas1 said,
Wanted to shed some light on why it is going to take a while to change the MMS feature.

Full disclosure I work for AT&T Mobility

The reason why it is going to take a while to effect the change is because there is a data code on every iPhone's account that blocks mms capability so MMS messages can be forwarded to a website and iPhone users can still receive them via a website through the safari browser. We need the 3.0 software / 3Gs software to launch before we can start effecting the changes that removes this "soc" code for every iPhone account of which there are millions.

Secondly, the person that claimed our 3g network was slow around dial up speeds needs to check his facts. 30KB/s is roughly equivalent to 360Kb/s connection which is 5x better then the fastest dial up modem i remember which was 56Kb/s or roughly 6KB/s


About that website that MMS goes to... viewmymessage.com... its garbage. Rarely ever works, and if it does, its very slow.

Veritas1 said,
Secondly, the person that claimed our 3g network was slow around dial up speeds needs to check his facts. 30KB/s is roughly equivalent to 360Kb/s connection which is 5x better then the fastest dial up modem i remember which was 56Kb/s or roughly 6KB/s

I didn't mean kilobits by the way, i meant KILOBTYES per second down. Here in California like I said the speed is WAYY behind than advertised. I have confirmed this on my Touch Diamond downloading from Microsoft's servers and running the SpeedTest app on 12 different iPhone 3Gs in 4/5 bar areas. I have went all around Southern California and in Sacramento and all the same. It peaked at 40 KB/s in Sacramento.

So please show these comments to your managers and bosses this is a joke!!! We might be bribed in the surveys (sarcasm moment) but still we are all p**sed off. I love the reception there is no problem about that but the data bottlenecking needs to stop. NO MORE EXCUSES from your superiors, stop being their puppet either here. I'm not looking to start flames I just wanna vent the truth.

Thank you ermax, I always seem to forget to type the in their entirety. Anybody else care to agree with me? Now that the 3.0 software has been leaked (finalized one) they can't even have MMS. Where is the corporate puppet now? Lets hope he shows how we are unsatisfied with the data. I have no other choice sadly in terms of GSM carriers in the USA. T-Mobile has a very premature 3G network still and AT&T has the best reception as a GSM carrier and mostly better than Verizon. Sprint always overcharged and their choice of phones even up to now truly isn't as good as a GSM carrier. Same for Verizon.

I suspect that ATT wants to wait and see how well the Palm Pre does. If it takes off then ATT may give us tethering for free to match Sprint. If it doesn't take off well then ATT will tell us we need to pay $20 a month to add tethering. I am afraid the Pre isn't going to influence ATT enough to give it to use for free. I can see there concern though. Many people would add a ton of new traffic to the network with tethering. What sucks for me is tethering is very valuable to but very rarely gets used and when it does I am very conservative with it's use. Personally ATT would be better off to allow tethering on the standard $30 plan and put a very low cap on usage and if you need more, then you will have to pay the extra fee. I have no clue how someone could reach the current 5GB cap that is on the phone now.

I don't think the upgrade rules are screwing users over. Part of the agreement for the reduced price on the 3G was the two year contract. You get the discounted price with a subsidy. That's why they charge you for early termination.

To upgrade after only one year of the two year contract, you should have to pay more. If people have a problem with that, they could have purchased an unsubsidized 3G.

Alex

I have AT&T and where I live at the time I signed up with them (back in 98 ), That's all there was except a few spots with sprint and verizon. That was it. I have been with them since and I do like them... but their service is way over priced. That's the big things that irks me about their service.

I do not know how much the new iPhone will cost among price, upgrade the actual contract etc.
The article mentions between $399 and $699; if this was true I would advice people to do what I did:
I bought my 16Gb 3G iPhone Sim free in Europe for Euro599 minus Euro90 because I am US citizen, final price: Euro509.
I happily, and legally, use my iPhone with any carrier I want without having any feature crippled.

Besides I like my iPhone but.... it still come short in too many aspects like the lack of a detachable battery so whenever I get in a confidential meeting I have to leave it out of the door etc. etc.

As far as I know, the iPhone isn't sold Sim free in Europe. All sales of it I've seen are bound to a contract. Would be interesting to know where you got it from.

Italy; besides there are severla COuntries in Europe where it would be illegal to sell a cellular phone only with a contract.

I hate AT&T...I really do, they have horrible reception, overpriced plans and to add to the insult are real slow at rolling out upgrades to their network.

A co-worker has me interested in the G1 phone.

Unfortunately, no other provider has the kind of coverage AT&T does in my area (St. Louis). If I stay by the city, I have good coverage with most providers (except Sprint, which strangely has had poor coverage for the past 10 years, and doesn't seem interested at all in improving it). If I venture out about 1 hour in any direction, it seems AT&T is the only one I can verify still offers coverage. Even in the middle of nowhere, it is only my friends and family with their AT&T phones that still have bars, while my phone says "no service."

I've had way too many dropped calls with Sprint, way too many areas with zero bars or no service. The last straw? I have zero bars from Sprint now in my own home. I can't make a reliable call from my own house. But if you look outside, you can see a big AT&T tower at the end of my street.

AT&T is one of the most expensive companies. Sprint advertises being the cheapest, but again they have some of the worst coverage. But, I will pay AT&T's high price - because I'll be paying for "more bars in more places" as they advertise.
It doesn't matter if they're an evil company that charges too much and doesn't provide the service features other companies do (like MMS or tethering), they simply have the best coverage in the area. And when it comes to having a cell phone, being able to simply make a CALL is the most important thing to me.

Plus, I kinda would like to get an iPhone. I miss being able to check my email anywhere. Paying $100+ a month scares me a little.

Coverage is the major factor that varies for everyone as it depends heavily on where you are. For me Sprint coverage is everywhere except deep inside buildings and Verizon roaming makes that up for me.

But I live in Philadelphia, PA one of the largest cities in the country.

Yea AT&T was a bad move for Apple. Everyone that I know with the iPhone hates AT&T service. The reception sucks and 3G speeds are slow. Apple please move to a CDMA network like Verizon or Sprint.

Earlier there were some very convincing images of a new black bezel part and a new matte black back plate for a new iPhone floating around, neither of which materialized in the 3G[S]. There were also references in the 3.0 software to a true new generation iPhone, while the 3G[S] seems only evolutionary.

Maybe there's going to be another iPhone launch this year with a new Verizon phone?

Stetson said,
Earlier there were some very convincing images of a new black bezel part and a new matte black back plate for a new iPhone floating around, neither of which materialized in the 3G[S]. There were also references in the 3.0 software to a true new generation iPhone, while the 3G[S] seems only evolutionary.

Maybe there's going to be another iPhone launch this year with a new Verizon phone?

when 3.0 first was released as beta there were 2 new references found - iphone2,1 and iphone3,1. where first iphone was 1,1 and the 3G was 1,2.

If I had to guess i'd say 2,1 is this hardware improved iphone 3GS , and all those leaked pics we saw was the iphone3,1 , built for testing purposes with solid black so it doesn't look too flashy.. i'm sure the design guys havent been siting around for a year doing nothing.. there's prob bigger changes coming for 3,1 next year and they want time to test it out.. just my guess anyway

Stetson said,
Earlier there were some very convincing images of a new black bezel part and a new matte black back plate for a new iPhone floating around, neither of which materialized in the 3G[S]. There were also references in the 3.0 software to a true new generation iPhone, while the 3G[S] seems only evolutionary.

Maybe there's going to be another iPhone launch this year with a new Verizon phone?

I really hope not.. that would be a step backward for Apple if they do so.. Verizons got more problems than ppl know about..

I really think that its time for Apple to branch out to other carriers in the US. AT&T might have been a good partner to begin with but now they're really holding them back, some competition would be good.

How many times does it have to be repeated? There are only TWO nationwide GSM carriers in the US, AT&T and T-Mobile, so it's not like they have a huge pool to choose from with their current hardware.

I know that they don't have much choice with their current hardware, but I doubt that launching a CDMA/EVDO phone would be a difficult task for Apple, or even a phone that supported both. There have also been instances of Apple advertising to hire people familiar with CDMA hardware.

CDMA/EVDO are very limiting in terms of flexibility. You can't really go outside the country with such phone, thus GSM is better in that way. The "G" means Global, go figure.

We're screwed I know this as a fact.

Stetson said,
I really think that its time for Apple to branch out to other carriers in the US. AT&T might have been a good partner to begin with but now they're really holding them back, some competition would be good.

I'd drop AT&T in a heartbeat and take my iPhone to Verizon. Just anything besides US Cell or Sprint.

we're getting both with Rogers/fido in Canada as well... and tethering included with no extra charge. wow.. we actually have an advantage for something

Is that confirmed? I've been hoping for a reason to use my 6GB data plan. I only use a few hundred MB from it. Tethering here I come.

Xero said,
Is that confirmed? I've been hoping for a reason to use my 6GB data plan. I only use a few hundred MB from it. Tethering here I come.

Its confirmed. There's a few references on Rogers site regarding an official Tethering policy. Any plans with 1GB and above can tether that data at no extra cost. Although people have already been using data through tethering for a long time without issue...

No surprise. The original AT&T wireless went BANKRUPT because they were so tremendously awful in every way. Even business customers blackballed them until they dies a deserving death.

Supposedly the new AT&T is just the name sold to Cingular, but hey, it has looked more and more recently like Cingular has been corrupted by the Dark Side. 8(

excalpius said,
Supposedly the new AT&T is just the name sold to Cingular, but hey, it has looked more and more recently like Cingular has been corrupted by the Dark Side. 8(

Service has gotten considerably (snipped) since AT&T took over Cingular.