AT&T Inc. today finally set a firm date of Sept. 25 for making multimedia messaging service (MMS) available for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS.
The carrier had said at the launch of iPhone 3GS in June that MMS capability would be available by the end of the summer. AT&T went beyond that promise by a few days since autumn begins on Sept. 22.
The MMS will be enabled through a software update that day. A spokeswoman said the MMS service is available through a user's text messaging plan at no extra cost.
The carrier said in an online note that it had to prepare the network for the "record volumes" of MMS traffic expected from iPhone users. The company wants to "ensure an excellent experience from Day One."
AT&T also said in the online note to customers, "We appreciate your patience as we work toward that end."
The carrier also cited an "explosion of traffic" with smartphone usage, and reported wireless usage growth of 350% year-over-year for the past two years. "We want you to know that we're working relentlessly to innovate and invest in our network to anticipate this growth in usage and to stay ahead of the anticipated growth in data demand, new devices and applications for years go come," the note stated.
When Apple announced the 3GS on June 8, crowds jeered when it was mentioned that AT&T would not immediately have MMS available on the shipment date. The delay brought plenty of customer complaints and helped fuel concerns over the value of a carrier having an exclusive deal for a smartphone.
For AT&T, missing the end-of-summer target by a few days was justified by the need to get the network ready. When asked why that target date was missed, a spokeswoman responded in an e-mail: "It was important to us to give our customers a positive experience from day one. We took the time necessary to make sure our network is ready to handle what we expect will be a record volume of MMS traffic. We appreciate our customers' patience and hope they'll understand our desire to get it right from the start."