Discounted Limited Data Plan for iPhone Coming From AT&T?

BusinessWeek reports that AT&T is considering introducing a discounted limited data plan for the iPhone at $20 per month. AT&T currently offers only an unlimited data plan for $30 per month, and the data transfer cap for the rumored discounted plan remains unknown.

Analyst Richard Doherty claims that the additional data plan option is being driven by Apple, which wants to offer a lower-cost entry point for the iPhone. AT&T, which is reportedly still trying to lock up an extension to its exclusivity agreement for the iPhone, is also looking for ways to continue to increase its subscriber base.

The exclusive U.S. iPhone service provider is considering cutting the price of its monthly service package or offering a range of lower-priced plans, say people with knowledge of the company's thinking. One plan that could be introduced as early as late May would include limited data access at a $10 monthly reduction, the people say.

The possible price cut likely reflects the back-and-forth between AT&T and Apple (AAPL) as they work out whether and under what terms AT&T would remain the sole U.S. iPhone carrier. Apple may want flexibility in pricing as a condition, analysts say. "We understand it's part of the extension [of its contract] that AT&T wants to maintain," Richard Doherty, director at consultant Envisioneering Group, says of the prospect of lower data-plan prices. As Apple considers whether to widen its circle of U.S. providers, AT&T may have less ability to balk at Apple's requests.

The report also touches on rumors of a price drop for the next-generation as component prices continue to decline and AT&T considers offering the entry-level iPhone for $99 instead of the current $199. A prepaid iPhone is also reportedly under consideration.

Rumors of a discounted iPhone data plan from AT&T surfaced earlier this month, although the previous reports did not include mention of limited data transfer at the reduced rate.

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