Has AT&T been delaying the US launch of iPhone 3.0's MMS and tethering services due to concerns about their network being able to handle it? Um, yeah, that would have been our guess... The New York Times, however, states it as fact:

[AT&T] has also delayed bandwidth-heavy features like multimedia messaging, or text messages containing pictures, audio or video. It is also postponing “tethering,” which allows the iPhone to share its Internet connection with a computer, a standard feature on many rival smartphones. AT&T says it has no intention of capping how much data iPhone owners use.

How big is the concern? AT&T claims they've diverted $18 billion to upgrade and expand their 3G network to handle the load, but that getting local approval to build towers takes time, as does upgrading existing infrastructure.

Analysts quoted seem to agree with TiPb readers that AT&T may just have been hit first and hardest by the iPhone, but other networks will face the same problem if/when they start to see iPhone class devices hitting their towers in the same numbers.

So, is AT&T doing the right thing delaying MMS and tethering until, you know, they'll actually work, or do you just want your features and want them now? Or do you just not buy this whole "data usage conspiracy" at all?