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Thursday, May 06, 2010, 09:20 am PT (12:20 pm ET)

Analyst says he was just speculating on 6-month AT&T iPhone extension

One analyst has predicted, not declared, that AT&T likely agreed to offer no-contract iPad data plans in exchange for Apple extending its exclusive access to the iPhone in the U.S.

Comments from Brian Marshall with Broadpoint AmTech generated interest on the Web Thursday, as the analyst suggested a Verizon-compatible iPhone wouldn't be released until 2011. Marshall's speculative comments came out of a report from Computerworld, in which he suggested AT&T and Apple may have extended their exclusive agreement by six months. Headlines elsewhere incorrectly declared that Marshall was offering inside information of a formal deal between the two companies.

"[It was] speculation only," Marshall said in an e-mail to AppleInsider. "I think [AT&T] had to get something in return (i.e., 6 month extension on iPhone exclusivity)."

Marshall said he believes it's likely AT&T had to get something in return for offering "such attractive 3G data pricing." AT&T's $30-per-month unlimited data-only plan is half the price of its competitors.

Marshall told Computerworld, and said he believes AT&T was able to negotiate a six-month extension for the iPhone.

It's a change of tune for Marshall, who had previously predicted that Apple would turn to Verizon this year. The Broadpoint AmTech analyst also said before the iPad was announced that it was "a certainty" that Apple's tablet would be available through Verizon.

Marshall said he was "floored" when the iPad was announced as AT&T 3G only in the U.S. He said AT&T's competitively priced plans are likely what cut Verizon out of the picture.

Apple's iPad with 3G connectivity carries a $130 premium over the Wi-Fi-only model. Users can access unlimited data on the device through AT&T for $30 a month, or use up to 250MB for $15 per month. Both plans do not come with a contract and can be canceled at any time.