AT&T to Remain Sole US iPhone Carrier into 2010?

USA Today has published an article highlighting AT&T chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson's contributions to the Apple-AT&T relationship. Of particular note, the article cites unnamed sources who claim that in exchange for offering Apple subsidies of up to $300 per iPhone, AT&T has been awarded an extra year of iPhone exclusivity in the United States, extending into 2010.

In exchange for its payout, AT&T got a year extension, into 2010, on its exclusive distribution deal with Apple, people familiar with the matter say. Sources asked to not be named because the terms are confidential.

Under the original iPhone contract, Apple had the right to offer the device to other carriers beginning in 2009. If Apple exercised that clause, AT&T would have lost one of its biggest points of leverage with customers exclusive access to the iPhone. Nailing the extension "is a very big deal," Entner says.

Stephenson declined to discuss the contract, saying only that he is "very happy" with the arrangement.

USA Today had previously claimed that AT&T's original exclusivity agreement with Apple was to run for five years (into 2012), although other sources had reported that the agreement would extend only until 2009.

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