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Prepare for the Worst: AT&T's MMS Friday

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[Note: AT&T weathered the storm just fine. There were no reports of outages or delays on launch day.]

AT&T will test its mobile network's resilience on 25-Sep-09 when it rolls out an upgrade with support for MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) for iPhone users in the United States. MMS allows including audio, video, pictures alongside text messages. The iPhone OS has supported MMS since version 3.0's release in June 2009, and many international carriers already offer the service.

Some press reports cite internal sources who believe the increased network load could be 40 percent above normal usage as people try the service for the first time. Recent reports continue to show that AT&T is facing a strain on its network, delaying Visual Voicemail messages and dropping calls. Elinor Mills wrote about calling problems at some length at CNET recently.

The big news about MMS is that it's entirely boring. If you've ever sent email with a photo embedded, MMS isn't much more exciting than that. Sure, it works across carriers (where a phone and carrier support it), and it's easier to send an MMS than an email message because of better software integration. (Although that's debatable on the iPhone, where email is easy to send.)

But MMS is a huge win for carriers in terms of profit margins, which are very high, while still consuming extremely low bandwidth relative to other behavior. A 1 MB email message containing several photos would cost nothing to send on an iPhone, whereas a 100 KB MMS message would require either a $5 to $20 per-month plan or $0.30 to send without a plan. You can see which the carriers would prefer.

 

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Comments about Prepare for the Worst: AT&T's MMS Friday

All the possibilities read like something akin to the Y2K fears. Brace yourselves.
Late Summer MMS will be available (came and went). Sept 25th official launch (still no MMS on my Iphone as of yet). Any more lies AT&T?
Jeff Carlson  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2009-09-25 02:34
Given that it was only 2:30 am on the West Coast when you wrote this, perhaps a little patience is in order? I doubt there's a big master MMS switch that gets thrown at midnight to turn the system on.
Agreed... I'm pretty sure I read somewhere it would be around 10:00, pacific time... Patience my friend.
Adam M  2009-09-25 09:44
I'm skeptical that it will even come out at all today. Late summer becomes September 25. Late morning...Pacific Time will probably turn into 5pm september 28.