AT&T: iPhone Tethering Really is Coming... Eventually

It's been a year since AT&T Mobility President Ralph de la Vega said that iPhone tethering support was "coming soon," but subscribers still aren't able to share their phone's Internet connection with their laptop. Despite the extended delay, AT&T representatives still insist iPhone tethering support is on the way, according to Computerworld.

"We plan to offer tethering on the iPhone but have not announced a date," commented an AT&T spokesperson. Just exactly when tethering will arrive, however, is still a mystery.

Apple added the ability to share the iPhone's wireless data connection with computers, also known as tethering, in the iPhone OS 3.0 update. Carriers in many countries let users take advantage of tethering as soon as the update was released, but AT&T wasn't on that list.

After Mr. de la Vega said that iPhone tethering support was coming soon, he changed his stance to say there would be a delay because AT&T needed to first upgrade its wireless network.

AT&T has been struggling to keep up with usage demands ever since the iPhone launched in 2007, and iPhone users account for a substantial percentage of the carrier's wireless data usage. Some analysts -- and apparently AT&T -- think the company's network wouldn't be able to adequately support the added traffic iPhone tethering support would bring.

Not all iPhone users, however, would likely rely on tethering on a regular basis. J. Gold Associates Analyst Jack Gold predicts that less than five percent of AT&T's iPhone users are interested in tethering.

Despite the potentially limited interest in iPhone tethering, it looks like AT&T doesn't have plans to enable the feature any time soon. Verizon is already playing off that notion by showing off the Motorola Droid's tethering support in its ads, and other companies could jump on the bandwagon, too.