ATandT to Lower Cost of iPhone Data Plan, Reports Say

Online reports suggest that AT&T may lower the price of its monthly iPhone data plan later in May, as part of a readjustment of the relationship between the carrier and Apple. Anticipation of a new version of the iPhone is already high as thousands of developers prepare Apps for the iPhone OS 3.0.

AT&T may lower the price of the monthly data plan for the Apple iPhone, according to unnamed sources in a BusinessWeek article.

The BusinessWeek article suggests that AT&T could either cut the price of the monthly data plan or else offer a lower-cost plan in addition. One possible plan would see a $10 reduction in users' monthly data service bills in exchange for more limited data access.

Word of the potential price readjustment comes as hype begins to build for Apple's release of the next version of its popular smartphone. Reports also suggest that AT&T has been making enhancements to double the capacity of its 3G networks, with the downlink capacity on its HSPA (High-Speed Packet Access) being increased from 3.6M bps to 7.2M bps.

The iPhone currently has over 17 million users in over 80 countries, and more than 1 billion iPhone Apps have been downloaded from Apple's App Store. The rumor mill went into high gear earlier in March, when Apple executives offered up a preview of the iPhone OS 3.0 hardware.

The iPhone OS 3.0 will offer 100 new features, many of them suited to making the phone more enterprise-ready. Some 50,000 developers were given access to the beta version, as well as an updated SDK (software development kit) with over 1,000 new application programming references.

As AT&T's contract to exclusively ship the iPhone reached its end, reports had Apple in negotiations with Verizon to perhaps bring the device to Verizon's CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) wireless network. Speculation abounded that the "breaking" of the iPhone onto multiple carriers would be a body blow to AT&T's stock price and business plan.

Despite lowered revenue due to the global recession, including a 9.7 percent drop in first-quarter profit, AT&T's wireless division grew by 1.2 million subscribers year-over-year in the first quarter, largely thanks to the iPhone. AT&T reported around 1.6 million iPhone activations for the first quarter, and an increase in wireless data revenue of 38.6 percent to $3.2 billion.