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Report: AT&T, Apple Signed 5-Year iPhone Deal

No one knows if it's still in effect, but court documents have surfaced that show Apple and AT&T's original iPhone exclusivity deal was meant to last for five years.

Engadget dug into the court documents and on Monday confirmed that Apple and AT&T's deal was intended to last until 2012, although the blog noted that the two companies may have renegotiated the deal since then, so it may not still be in effect.

USA Today broke the news of the five-year exclusivity deal prior to the iPhone's launch in May 2007, but the report was never confirmed and no one paid much attention to it. But as reported by Engadget, Apple and AT&T were targeted in a 2007 class action in part for not revealing the length of their exclusivity deal.

In defending itself, Apple cited the USA Today report as evidence that the five-year exclusivity deal was public knowledge, according to Engadget.

No one knows if the original exclusivity deal is still in effect, and it's definitely possible that Apple, in the meantime, has grown tired of the constant drumbeat of negativity surrounding AT&T's iPhone service and negotiated a change of terms.

Meanwhile, Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg hasn't been shy about his desire to add the iPhone to his smartphone roster. At a conference in New York last month, Seidenberg almost sounded like he was actually campaigning for Apple to grant Verizon such an honor.

"We're open to getting the device," Seidenberg said at the conference. "Our network is capable of handling it."

There has been plenty of other speculation about AT&T maneuvering to maintain its iPhone exclusivity. Last week, Brian Marshall, an analyst at BroadPoint AmTech told Computerworld he believes AT&T cut a deal with Apple to offer deeply discounted iPad data plans in exchange for a six-month extension of iPhone exclusivity.

AT&T isn't requiring a service contract with the 3G iPad, a puzzling move given the early runway sales of the device. The iPad isn't designed for voice, but it would seem that AT&T would be trying to maximize its profit on data plans for the device.

For now, only Apple and AT&T know whether their original five-year iPhone exclusivity deal is still in effect, although countless frustrated iPhone subscribers are hoping upon hope that it's not.

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