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AT&T's iPhone MMS to be free

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AT&T has dribbled out a bit more information about its support for Apple's new iPhone 3.0 software. The good news is that MMS support will be free. The bad news is that Big Phone hasn't made any changes in their controversial iPhone 3G S early-upgrade pricing.

In a new FAQ released by the telecom giant, news comes that MMS support will be provided "at no extra cost to customers with a text messaging bundle." Monthly charges for AT&T's text messaging varies depending upon the number of messages you choose to sign up for:

  • 200 messages per month: $5.00
  • 1,500 messages per month: $15.00
  • Unlimited messages: $20.00

You can also choose not to elect a text-messaging plan and instead pay $0.20 per message - thankfully, an AT&T spokesperson told The Reg that the twenty-cent rate will continue for MMS messages.

In addition to the free-MMS info, we also noticed a line of fine print on AT&T's iPhone website which notes that "MMS support from AT&T [is] coming in late summer."

That's a subtle distinction from what was announced one week ago at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, when Apple's iPhone software honcho Scott Forrestall said that MMS support would appear "later this summer." It appears that "later" simply means "late".

One other piece of good news in the FAQ is that if you happen to be on an AT&T family plan and one of your kids is ready for an upgrade, you can "rearrange your account" to take advantage of Junior's eligibility - although you'll have to sign up for a new two-year contract to do so.

The FAQ also notes that "in the future, AT&T will offer tethering capability for iPhone 3G S and iPhone 3G," but provides no hint of availability date or pricing.

In the UK, O2 will be ready for MMS and internet tethering on day one. The company has also announced its internet tethering pricing - and it ain't cheap. Monthly subscribers will pay £14.68 per month for 3GB and £29.36 for 10GB, with a 19.6p surcharge for every megabyte over their limit. Business customers will pay comparable rates depending upon the plan they choose. Wi-Fi tethering is unlimited over The Cloud's 5,000 hotspots, with BT Openzone "to follow."

O2 also notes that those fees only cover UK use, saying that "If you use your iPhone as a modem abroad, it'll cost £2.94 a MB (£2.55 without VAT) in the EU and £6 a MB everywhere else."

If AT&T mirrors O2's gouging pricing, those fees would translate to $23.93 per month for 3GB and $47.86 for 10GB. EU pricing would be a moot point, but that £6 "everywhere else" charge would fiscally transmogrify to $9.78 per megabyte.

As we said, AT&T has yet to give any hint of what they're going to charge for internet tethering - so bookmark this page, and when Big Phone announces their pricing, come back and check how tariffs in the US compare with what our friends in Dear Old Blighty are coughing up. ®

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