Before the original iPhone launched in 2007, USA Today reported that Apple and AT&T has entered a five-year carrier exclusivity agreement. That report was never verified, though, and the terms of the agreement between Apple and AT&T have long been the subject of debate. Until this week, that is, when Engadget poured through documents and found that, in 2008, a class-action lawsuit alleging monopoly was filed against Apple. Apple’s response confirmed the five-year deal: “[T]here was widespread disclosure of [AT&T’s] five-year exclusivity and no suggestion by Apple or anyone else that iPhones would become unlocked after two years.”
Still, as Engadget notes, it is possible that the terms of the contract have changed since 2007 or 2008. “Contracts can be canceled, amended, and breached in many ways, and AT&T’s spotty recent service history plus the explosion of the iPhone and the mobile market in general have given Apple any number of reasons to revisit the deal,” Engadget says.