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AT&T remains elusive on official date for iPhone tethering

iPhone users have been waiting for tethering for a long time. More specifically, AT&T customers are still waiting for it. Since the WWDC 2009 Keynote Address, where it was announced that iPhone OS 3.0 would support tethering, AT&T has said they would support it... sometime.

Appmodo.com is reporting that iPhone tethering will not be available this year. They suggested that AT&T had previously gone on-record saying "that iPhone tethering would become available 'sometime this year'" -- presumably referring to this quote on CNet.com, from AT&T Mobility chief Ralph de la Vega who said (in November of 2008) that "iPhone 3G users will be able to use their phones as wireless modems at some point next year," which would obviously mean 2009.

The Appmodo story links to an article by Andrew LaVallee, writing for The Wall Street Journal's Digits blog, who quotes an unnamed spokesman for AT&T who refused to say when tethering would be available and said: "Whenever we offer new features, we want to offer the best possible customer experience. For tethering, we need to do some additional fine tuning to our systems and networks so that we do deliver a great experience."

Appmodo seems to think this is a change in AT&T's official stance, but LaVallee explicitly refers to it as "the company's prior statement."

When it comes to iPhone tethering, has Appmodo gotten the story straight before? Well, on June 17th they quoted a source who said "The highly anticipated tethering option will also be delivered towards the end of July with pricing around $55 per month..." -- then on June 19th, AT&T explicitly denied the $55 cost via their Facebook page.

On July 9th they quoted the same source saying that MMS and tethering were coming in September, and repeated the "around $55" estimated cost which had already been dismissed on the record. Appmodo added, "Our source is from an undisclosed reputable AT&T employee." So much for that. Granted, we've also been off the mark on tethering rumors, but we're trying not to make such a habit of it.

When will AT&T make tethering available? The answer is that no one outside of AT&T and Apple knows. AT&T isn't saying, but what Appmodo is seeing as a change in the answer, the WSJ says is the same line they've heard before. Given the way Appmodo has been reading the tethering tea leaves, I am highly skeptical that this represents an official schedule change -- sure, tethering might not show up until 2013, but that was just as true last week as it is today.

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