Almost a year after Apple enabled the feature in its iPhone 3.0 operating system, AT&T has yet to allow users to “tether” or use their iPhones as a wireless modem to provide Internet connectivity for other devices such as laptops and iPads.
Recalling statements by AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega as far back as November 2008, Chris Ziegler asked the carrier again when tethering might be made available in the U.S.:
AT&T currently offers tethering on several other devices, but not the iPhone, which makes sense given their concerns about data network overload. Studies have shown that iPhone users, on average, consume five times as much data each month as consumers using Blackberry phones. However, carriers in many other countries enabled the tethering feature for their customers shortly after Apple made it available.
Cell carriers continue to struggle with the unprecedented demand for mobile data. Analysts expect 117 percent growth in mobile Web use for each of the next five years. As consumers switch from desktop to mobile computing devices, and content producers follow, the availability of affordable wireless connectivity will be a limiting factor in that growth.