Does AT&T ETF Hike Confirm Verizon iPhone?

Steve Jobs is slated to address the forthcoming Apple developer conference on June 7. AT&T just boosted the penalty it charges customers for early termination of contracts. Coincidence? Or does it indicate that the long-rumored Verizon iPhone is almost here.

Here's what AT&T said about its decision to boost early termination fees:

We are now making changes that will lower the ETF for many customers who agree to new term commitments, and will increase it for others. Current AT&T wireless customers who are within their two-year consumer service agreement or have an existing enterprise service agreement will see no change to their current terms.

Beginning June 1, 2010, we will reduce the ETF in new and upgrade two-year service agreements for all customers who are buying basic and quick messaging phones. Whether you are new to us or upgrading handsets, the ETF will decrease to $150 from $175, and be reduced by $4 for each month that you remain with us as a customer during the balance of your two-year service agreement. After the term commitment is completed, the ETF will no longer apply.

For customers who enter into new two-year service agreements in connection with the purchase of our more advanced, higher end devices, including netbooks and smartphones, the ETF will increase to $325, and be reduced by $10 for each month that you remain with us as a customer during the balance of your two-year service agreement. After that, the ETF will no longer apply.

If you have a smartphone and break your contract it could cost you $325 -- get it? Although many have said that a Verizon iPhone is at least a year away (maybe two) this move says to me that AT&T knows that it will face iPhone competition in the near term. 

Meanwhile a Morgan Stanley survey shows pent-up demand for the iPhone among Verizon customers:

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