AT&T to Raise Early Termination Fee for iPhone and Other Smartphones from $175 to $325
The Wall Street Journal reports (subscription required) that as of June 1st, AT&T will nearly double the early termination fee for customers on smartphone contracts such as for the iPhone, going from $175 to $325. The change, which would apply only to new contracts, appears set to come just prior to the launch of a new iPhone.
The iPhone is AT&T's biggest wireless growth driver; however, the company's contract as Apple's sole U.S. partner is expected to end over the next year. The loss of exclusivity could enable iPhone customers--particularly those frustrated by the carrier's network issues--to go to rivals, specifically Verizon Wireless, although high early termination fees could serve as a deterrent.
An AT&T spokesman, however, said the timing of the move wasn't related to any device.
Earlier this week, AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega noted that his company does not expect many iPhone customers to jump ship to rival carriers once AT&T loses its exclusivity in the United States. He pointed to data showing that 80% of customers are on family talk or corporate discount plans that serve as a significant barrier to switching. A significantly increased early termination fee would obviously also be a deterrent to switching for those customers signed up to a multi-year contract.