updated 11:40 am EDT, Thu October 8, 2009
Blames delay on network improvements
American iPhone owners will not be able to officially tether their devices for some time, AT&T has acknowledged. "Whenever we offer new features, we want to offer the best possible customer experience," a carrier spokesman claims. "For tethering, we need to do some additional fine tuning to our systems and networks so that we do deliver a great experience."
Support for using an iPhone as a portable modem is an integral feature of the iPhone 3.0 firmware, which launched on June 19th alongside the iPhone 3GS. The option has been available for months with carriers in other countries, but has only been promised for the US sometime this year. Hopes for the introduction of tethering were raised by a recent change in VoIP policy, allowing the data-intensive technology on AT&T's network.
The carrier is believed to be worried that tethering could be even more demanding on bandwidth. Desktop and notebook apps typically transfer far more data than their mobile counterparts, and the AT&T 3G network is already to subject to oversaturation in some areas, most notably New York City and San Francisco. Several lawsuits have been filed against Apple and AT&T for false marketing in this regard.