The text, which comes from one of Boy Genius Report's "top informants," appears to be targeted at customer service agents and repeatedly alludes to the concept of tethering.
Specifically, the document seemingly addresses a flaw discovered in tethering the device to a computer which asks customers upgrading their iPhones to accept a new two-year contract regardless of any existing agreements. AT&T is aware of the problem and will reset the contract's start date to match what customers originally saw when they first added an iPhone plan.
"Please advise all customers that to complete the tethering process of their new iPhone they will be required to accept a new two-year agreement including the [Terms and Conditions]," the message reads. "However, their agreement will not be extended from their original iPhone activation or upgrade date."
Employees are also given a script to recite to customers upgrading their iPhones.
AT&T's exact meaning is unclear. The cellular provider's references to "tethering" may represent internal phrasing for the initial iTunes activation process and may well refer to customers upgrading to the 16GB iPhone from an existing model rather than any special features.
However, the choice of language is unusual, particularly for speaking with customers more familiar with Apple's own references to activation and sync. In smartphone terms, "tethering" most frequently refers to using a phone as a substitute Internet connection for a computer when a landline or a cellular modem card is unavailable. The handset typically serves either as the modem itself or as a relay.
Apple has not announced any plans to offer data tethering for the iPhone, though the feature has commonly been requested by some current and potential customers, particularly frequent travelers without reliable sources of Internet access.
If the information simply references the higher-capacity iPhone already on sale, however, it nonetheless indicates a wider problem with transitioning customers to newer iPhone models inside AT&T's account system. Apple is said to be aware of the issue regardless of its exact nature.