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iPhone Tethering Plan: Sources Say Problematic Delays Caused by AT&T Network

MacBlogz has learned that problematic issues caused by AT&T’s cellular network, coupled with extreme caution being practiced by AT&T, is preventing an official iPhone tethering plan from progressing. The service, which has been in development under a microscope, has been running into fairly substantial issues with the stability of AT&T’s cellular network.

According to a colleague of mine who works with AT&T (who has been fairly accurate in the past), Apple and AT&T have been developing an iPhone tethering plan, similar to that allowed for Blackberry users. The reason we haven’t heard or seen anything about it, is because AT&T is being extremely paranoid of how the service will run on their network. “Since I’ve worked here, I’ve never seen them be so worried about legalities,” my colleague explained. Regarding the service being available to Blackberry users, he says that it’s a different situation. Blackberry users haven’t slammed AT&T’s network by the millions in one quarter, in such large rushes. “Regardless of how many billions of dollars AT&T pours into their 3G network, it hasn’t been stable enough to handle all you iPhone users,” he explained.

Back in August, Gizmodo reported about a legitimate looking e-mail thread being sent to them from one of their readers. In the email, Apple CEO Steve Jobs responded to complaints about the lack of tethering options from AT&T, for the iPhone. Jobs responded to the email by saying he agrees with the absurdity of the missing functionality, and that Apple and AT&T were indeed working on it.

Since the release, and removal of Netshare form the Apple App Store, many iPhone users have been demanding that Apple and AT&T resolve any disputes they may have with offering the service to their customers.

After pestering our sources for nearly 2 weeks about this issue, we’ve been able to confirm that Apple and AT&T are indeed working on it. The functionality is in place, and any delays in the service being released are being caused by AT&T’s network, or their lack of confidence in the network should a large percentage of iPhone users begin using the service. While we initially questioned the validity of the email thread Gizmodo posted, chances are it is legit.

Comments [18]

18 Comments to “iPhone Tethering Plan: Sources Say Problematic Delays Caused by AT&T Network”

JaoreeL @ October 23rd, 2008 at 10:50 am
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Ummmmm…. WHOA !!!

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lizzardking @ October 23rd, 2008 at 10:54 am
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The second this is released, I’m allllllllll over it. I NEED this, and there’s no way I’m jail-breaking my iPhoee.

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murazz @ October 23rd, 2008 at 10:55 am
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Jeez…It’s about time we found out why this isn’t here yet. I was so stoked on hearing about Netshare and Poof…it was gone.

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lizzardking @ October 23rd, 2008 at 11:00 am
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Did u get a chance to download NetShare?

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murazz @ October 23rd, 2008 at 11:03 am
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yup. but stopped using it quickly cause I got scared Att was gonna send me one of those bills with 3 zeros at the end of it.

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GorillaTRADE @ October 23rd, 2008 at 11:08 am
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How much would this cost? How much EXTRA would it cost I mean ?

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TetrisLOVA @ October 23rd, 2008 at 11:20 am
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I have a blackberry… it’s an extra 29.99 for tethering

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22 @ October 23rd, 2008 at 11:44 am
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people: you could always just jailbreak

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jojo22 @ October 23rd, 2008 at 12:10 pm
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companies can’t, corporate users can’t, enterprise, college students, non-tech savvy people, my mom can’t, nor should she jailbreak.

come on dude.

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dave @ October 23rd, 2008 at 12:18 pm
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Why do you need to pay extra? You already pay for an “unlimited” plan.

How are the bits different if they wind up going to your laptop instead of being consumed by your iPhone?

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Tom @ October 23rd, 2008 at 1:07 pm
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Come on – what are you twelve? Yes we paid for unlimited – but cut Apple and AT&T a break and realize that unlimited on a tiny handheld device and unlimited on a laptop are two different beasts. You don’t run Kazaa (or limewire, filedonkey or the file sharing app of the week) World of Warcraft, or have to download Apple’s weekly 1gig patches on a handheld. As soon as you tether demand will go up 10 – 100x. And I will be 2nd in line – Lizzardking above is first I think… :-)

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G @ October 24th, 2008 at 12:47 pm
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I’ve been evaluating the Bold and the iPhone. The make or break features have been the battery life and the tethering. I commute to work on the train for over an hour a day and the tethering would make my trip so much more productive. Hopefully, the will work this out over the next few weeks (unlikely) because otherwise I’m going with the Bold. Looks like tethering is going to be an extra $10 on the Bold which is totally fair. I might do it for $20 but $30 is way too much.

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mike @ October 24th, 2008 at 5:21 pm
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Why should this affect the rest of the world. I don’t understand why a decision for a US telco should affect the non-us iphone users.

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thomas @ October 25th, 2008 at 7:54 am
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Mike, exactly its time for Apple to think of the rest of the users!!

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gthomas @ October 25th, 2008 at 2:11 pm
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Okay, since nobody is addressing these points. Why should it cost more to tether a laptop to the iPhone? The data is moving via Wifi between the two devices. Why would this be a problem for AT&T networks? Your data throughput shouldn’t be any greater than it was just surfing on the iPhone, right? And why should I have to pay a premium that is basically me surfing on the phone via my laptop screen.

AT&T nor Apple is providing any greater service for the extra $20-30/month AT&T wants to charge for tethering. Charge me for the app, that makes the process simple, but what service, neither is providing a service. It’s just a false control exerted on my ability to use either device fully.

Tethering allows users to compose and send lengthy emails that are difficult to do directly on the iPhone. Because the Mobile iDisk services are still out of commission, there is no easy way to share and send files using your iDisk, one of the most important features that was to come out of Mobile Me. Yes, syncing my iCal, Email and Contacts is nice, but the functionality that is missing is the ability to share and manipulate iDisk files from an iPhone.

Mobile Me services could negate some of the necessity of tethering for many things. But still I shouldn’t be locked out of tethering. I shouldn’t be charged more for utilizing my network connection in a manner that in now way affects the network anymore than when I use the iPhone.

Of course, Mobile Me and the ability to use my bluetooth keyboard with my phone and a larger plugin display could negate the needs for tethering.

Now maybe I’m missing something about why tethering would use more bandwidth, if someone can explain that, then maybe I’ll understand AT&T’s concerns.

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AdamC @ October 25th, 2008 at 3:46 pm
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@gthomas: Some of what you’re saying makes a lot of sense, and I agree with it. But think about this for a second. If ATT announced a truly splendid tethering plan, you know how many people would be using it instead of their iPhones while at a public place where there’s no internet connection? How about at airports instead of having to pay that Boingo charge, or even dropping the dime on a wireless connect card.

Many more users would begin using this service, and call me out if I’m wrong, but the network would DEFINITELY suffer if this happened. It would be slammed out of control. I worked at T-Mobile for a few years, and I know first hand. Because cell carriers are looked upon as devils, being paranoid and neurotically worrying about legalities trickles down to lower management as well.

In my opinion, if ATT wants to truly avoid disaster, they roll this out before Cupertino gets frustrated. Which I’m sure has already begun. I bet that even top tier Apple execs at some point or another while traveling have either wished for 3G in the Macbook Air, or wished that the iPhone offered tethering. But then again, do you think they jailbreak? ;)

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Tobbe @ October 26th, 2008 at 2:59 pm
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I really can’t understand this problem. I’m working in Europe where I have been using tethering for the last 8-9 years. I can’t see the problem. People over here uses cellular networks far more than hotspots and haven’t noticed any problems so far (airports, train stations etc).

What are the technical issues, really? If it’s true that AT&T has a problem with their network, please don’t make the rest of the world suffer. Tethering is a basic functionality for a phone and has been for the last 10 years…

If it’s a financial oriented problem, come out from your caves! Tethering has been used (with high load) for the last 2-3 years and this is the fasted growing segment for the mobile market and carriers make good money of it.

One very practical thing with tethering is that you can place the phone where you have the strongest signal in a room (eg window) and then use Bluetooth to connect from the laptop. I know you can’t go over 1Mbs with this solution but it’s superior to USB modems when you are chasing the signal.

This tethering issue is actually the only thing that holds me (and a lot of others) back from getting an iPhone. I really love the phone (I have tested it a lot!)

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Peter @ November 10th, 2008 at 12:53 pm
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I know why AT&T is quaking in its boots about Iphone tethering… if AT&T stopped allowing the NSA to monitor all data streams in real-time then AT&T would have the available bandwidth to serve it *paying* customers instead of just the government.

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