It should come as a surprise to no one that AT&T is quietly offering iPhone customers its (previously discontinued) unlimited data for $30/month. The move is an effort to avert a possible wide-scale defection to Verizon when its iPhone arrives on the market.
The move isn't an official rate change and no statement has been made by AT&T, but the AP reports that off-contract iPhone owners that call and complain can have their accounts switched back to AT&T's unlimited data plan.
If you had an AT&T unlimited data plan on your iPhone prior to June 2010 you can probably switch back to it by calling and threatening to defect. It only works if you've been an AT&T customer since before June 2010 though, and loyalty can be a factor in AT&T's decision.
AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel would only say:
"We handle customers and their situations individually, and we're not going to discuss specifics"
Pay attention to that part about the contract, too. If you're still bound by AT&T's two-year agreeement you've basically got no leg to stand on. You might as well set an alarm in your calendar for the day that your contract expires -- unless you want to pony up AT&T's Early Termination Fee, that is.
I wonder what will happen to in-contract AT&T iPhone customers, willing to pay the Early Termination Fee, that call and threaten to defect? Will AT&T cave then too? If not, it probably should.
AT&T has no choice.
When AT&T loses its iPhone exclusivity next week (two weeks for non-Verizon customers) it has a gun to its head. To remain competitive AT&T will have to match VZW's two biggest advantages: unlimited data and personal hotspot.
It's time for AT&T to get creative and bang out a few press releases...