Report: AT&T quietly giving unlimited data to some iPhone customers

AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), in an unadvertised move, is allowing some Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone customers to switch from a usage-based data plan to an unlimited data plan, according to an Associated Press report. The loophole, which AT&T has not officially confirmed, could help stem the tide of subscribers who might leave once Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) begins selling the iPhone Feb. 10. 

According to the report, iPhone customers who were AT&T subscribers prior to June 2010 and had previously been on an unlimited plan but switched to a usage-based plan can switch back if they contact customer service. The move appears to be geared toward stemming churn to Verizon, which has said it will offer unlimited data service for $30 per month--at least initially--to iPhone subscribers.

In June, AT&T switched from an unlimited $30 per month smartphone data plan to a usage-based pricing system, with $15 per month getting 200 MB of data and $25 per month getting 2 GB, both with $10 per GB overage charges. Existing smartphone customers were not required to switch to the new plans, but could choose to do so without a contract extension. The carrier made the change just before offering the iPhone 4, which meant subscribers who wished to purchase the device had to sign on to the usage-based pricing plans.

AT&T has declined to comment on the loophole. "We handle customers and their situations individually, and we're not going to discuss specifics," AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel told the AP.

Verizon earlier this week detailed its pricing plans for the iPhone. The carrier confirmed a $30 per month unlimited data service, but executives said unlimited pricing will be temporary and that the carrier likely will follow AT&T's move to tiered pricing in the near future. Verizon also confirmed that the company will discontinue its $15 per month data option for smartphones. Verizon in October introduced promotional data pricing that offered 150 MB of data for $15 per month--Verizon executives earlier this week said the carrier will discontinue that option at the end of January, and noted it won't be available to incoming iPhone customers.

For more:
- see this AP article
- see this ZDNet article

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