According to the Twittersphere, AT&T (s att) has begun flipping the switch on MMS across the U.S. today. Sources say that AT&T will be sending out text messages, beginning at 10 A.M. EST today, to notify customers when MMS service is available for their use.
Customers and industry watchers alike are waiting anxiously to see how AT&T’s network will cope with the increased demand MMS will cause. AT&T spokesman Seth Bloom doesn’t expect any problems, however, noting in an email that:
SMS and MMS messages are carried differently than other network traffic. This is one of the reasons why when there’s a natural disaster or other large scale emergency situation (e.g., earthquake or something like that) that causes a huge and sudden spike in voice calls, wireless carriers suggest that people send text messages. They’re likely to get through when the voice circuits are busy.
Stacey at GigaOM goes into more detail about how MMS and SMS work compared to regular voice calls. She concludes that the true linchpin factor in today’s launch will be the strength of AT&T’s servers. Clearly, the carrier must be fairly confident in their ability to handle the strain, or we’d likely still be waiting for the company to announce a start date.
Some, like Twitter user Connor Stanton, are hoping that AT&T won’t be equal to the task and that its failure to meet the demand will result in a breakdown of the exclusivity deal between the carrier and Apple (s aapl). Stanton writes, “Come on AT&T. I want to crash your infrastructure when MMS rolls out so Apple will kill iPhone’s exclusivity in US. Kthnxbye.” In theory, if Apple thinks AT&T network woes are having a significant impact on its iPhone sales, we could see it take its business elsewhere.
There’s even a plan circulating on social media networks for AT&T iPhone users to simultaneously send out MMS messages at 5 P.M. EST to attempt to crash the network on purpose. I wonder if AT&T accounted for organized attempts to destabilize its network in preparation for today’s launch.
To activate MMS on your iPhone, plug your device into your computer. Click on it in the source list in iTunes, and then click the “Check for Update” button. You should see a dialog that says, “An update to the carrier settings for your iPhone is available. Would you like to download it now?” Click “Download and Update” and wait for the process to finish. Carrier settings updates are normally very fast. Once it’s finished, the camera icon should appear in your text messaging dialog, and new menu options should open up in your other native apps for sending various types of media.
Once activated, you’ll be able to send photos, video, audio, map locations, and contact information via MMS to other enabled devices. Very handy for making sure the sofa color you’re looking at is OK with your significant other before making a purchase, for example.