AT&T Not Ready to Roll Out MMS, Tethering for June iPhone Launch

If you're like me, you were left scratching your head Monday as to why AT&T balked at offering two new key features — laptop tethering and MMS messaging — on June 17 along with the release of iPhone OS 3.0.

Judging from the tone of Apple's keynote address at the World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco, it was clear that the company's executives weren't happy with AT&T.

One Apple executive told me Monday that AT&T wanted MMS — which allows users to send pictures and other files via text messaging — to "die a slow death."

Frankly, so did Apple, which hoped e-mail would be the answer to all of our picture-messaging prayers.

It's no secret that MMS is an ugly protocol, so it is no surprise that the carriers would love to see it die.

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AT&T Executive Director, Mark Siegel told me moments ago that AT&T does plan to bring MMS (multi-media messaging) to the iPhone, but not until the end of the summer.

"We're currently upgrading our systems and the overhaul won't be ready until the end of the summer," said Siegel, who emphatically assured me that it had NOTHING to do with AT&T's 3G network.

He said the system they're upgrading is separate from the 3G network.

What about tethering, which lets you use a cell phone as a modem for a computer? Is that tied to the same system upgrade?

"Yes," said Siegel. "But we don't have a date for when we will announce tethering, but it won't be at the end of the summer."

I pressed him to give me a specific date but no such luck.

Did Apple throw AT&T under the bus by suddenly moving the launch date up to June instead of July?

"I'm not commenting on that," Siegel told me.

I'll give AT&T credit for always being straight with me.