AT&T Already Activating iPhone MMS for Some

mms_attiPhone users in the U.S. are eagerly anticipating AT&T’s Sept. 25 MMS activation date, but for some at least, the wait is already over. Many are already seeing the switch thrown that enables MMS on their devices, according to a thread over at HowardForums, a mobile phone message board.

AT&T is taking a staggered approach to the activation of this long-awaited iPhone OS 3.0 feature, probably in an effort to minimize the effects of the rollout. If my own experience is any indication, the vast majority of network strain resulting from MMS will occur when users first activate it, after which most will probably only touch it sporadically.

Judging by this staggered introduction, AT&T’s primary concern with the MMS rollout is to minimize the impact to its network, which is already suffering under the strain of so many iPhone users, and which has already caused some to jump ship in search of better quality and consistency.

If you’re one of the lucky people to benefit from early activation, you should see a new “Cellular Data Network” menu item in the General > Network settings page, and a small camera icon will appear in the lower left-hand corner of your Messages app, which will allow you direct access to either the device’s camera or your pictures folders.

Oddly, the reports seem to indicate no correlation at all between carrier bundle or software version installed on their device, or their physical location, and the activation of MMS. When Apple originally introduced MMS in iPhone 3.0, here in Canada a carrier settings update was required before the service would work or the icon would even appear. AT&T’s activation suggests that no change on the user’s end of things is actually required to get things up and running, which isn’t what AT&T spokesman Brad Mays originally seemed to suggest:

The service will be enabled with a software update on the launch date. Customers can obtain the update from iTunes, just like all other iPhone updates.

Once activated, iPhone 3.0 users will be able to send photos, videos, audio, address book contact info and Maps locations via the Messaging app on their devices. By default, an MMS opt out is attached to all AT&T iPhone owners’ accounts, which must be removed prior to MMS functioning. If you’re experiencing problems, contact AT&T to make sure this has been lifted on your account.

Let us know if you’ve received MMS activation yet, where you are, and how you find the service so far (any noticeable network effects, for example).

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