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Thursday, June 21, 2007, 08:00 am PT (11:00 am ET)

AT&T exec: iPhone data plans to be announced June 29th [Updated]

AT&T plans to announce new service plans customized specifically for Apple's iPhone but will not make such details public until June 29 — the same day the device is due to launch in the United States — an executive for the wireless carrier told USA Today.

Larry Carter, senior vice president of sales for AT&T, confirmed that his firm has added 2,000 extra retail sales people for the launch — half of which will be there just to help handle the expected early crush of buyers.

Not all stores equal

AT&T retail stores in areas with a larger numbers of iPod users — such as New York City, Chicago and much of California — will be receiving larger stockpiles than stores who don't fit that demographic, he added.

"Ultimately, we will meet every customer's desire to have one," Carter told the paper.

Should certain locations sell out, the exec said sales people will take mail orders from customers, and the iPhones will be shipped in 3 to 5 days. To discourage scalpers, the carrier also plans to limit how many phones each customer can buy, but has not said how many that will be.

New service plans

Meanwhile, Carter hinted that iPhone "may offer cool features such as unlimited Web browsing." However, customers should be prepared to pay extra for that luxury.

"Regardless of which device you're using today, you pay us a certain amount for (voice) minutes, and you also pay us for data units," he said. "That is also true on the iPhone."

Network quality

Over at AT&T's network division, AT&T network services president Richard Burns says his team has been spending a lot of time on "interface testing" — making sure the iPhone and the AT&T wireless network work together seamlessly.

Over the last few months, he says, dozens of AT&T technicians have been secretly testing iPhones — in bars, subway stops, office buildings, rural areas and elsewhere — looking for technical hitches.

Burns added that AT&T has spent $50 million so far adding new network components in anticipation of the additional data traffic that iPhone users will generate.

"We wanted to be ready for the initial onslaught of people," he said.

Update: iLounge reports on comments from AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel, who says AT&T won't wait until the day of iPhone’s launch to disclose rate plans for the device.

"We will disclose before the 29th," he said, noting that customers will be able to show up at stores that day knowing how much they will be charged for both the Apple-developed hardware and AT&T’s cellular service plans. “It’s not going to be anything exotic," he added.