AT&T’s iPhone tethering is something near and dear to my heart.  In fact, I may or may not be writing this tethered to my iPhone on a train to New York City right now.  We know tethering works on AT&T’s network because frankly, we’ve been doing it using only Apple’s software since the iPhone 3.0 betas have been out (and before using PDAnet).  To keep tethering possible, all we’ve had to do is not update to 3.1 – which isn’t that easy.

Tethering is really handy when travelling, or as a home back-up Internet connection when the cable/DSL is out. It works well on USB and slightly less well over Bluetooth, so long as AT&T has service in the area – which isn’t always.

But AT&T, while encouraging tethering usage on Blackberries and other smartphones has delayed enabling it on the iPhone.  We believed it was coming later this year, until we got a note from an AT&T spokeman. He told us to correct a post that said AT&T will be delivering tethering in 2009.  Specifically, he said (his font color, not ours):

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…

We don’t have much to add, nor did he follow up on that statement, but by the look of it, we’d say those who hoped tethering may be enabled by Christmas might be getting some coal in their stockings.  We could have sworn we’d heard AT&T Wireless CEO, Ralph de la Vega, promise it by year end.  Here’s why:

In August 2008, S.Jobs sent a note to a inquisitive customer saying [regarding tethering on the iPhone being important]:

We agree, and are discussing it with ATT.


Sent from my iPhone

CNET reported in November 2008 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. [this being 2008] 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

That TechCrunch story was a little more vague:

In an interview with Michael Arrington at the Web 2.0 Summit, AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph De La Vega let it be known that an official, AT&T sanctioned method of using the iPhone as a 3G modem for a laptop is on the way “soon”.

The real issue is semantics and the definition of the word "soon".  CNET took "soon" to mean "within a year".  Perhaps AT&T’s wireless CEO meant soon, as in "Haley’s Comet last came in 1988, it is due again soon".

Regardless, we’d love to be proven wrong on this one.  What do you say AT&T?  Can we all tether now?


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