AT&T Raises ETF: Getting Ready for iPhone Defection?

GigaOM reports that AT&T has raised its Early Termination Fee to $350 from the $175 it is now charging. The new fee goes into effect on June 1 so there’s not much time remaining to jump ship. This move by AT&T follows Verizon’s jump to $350, a move Big Red had to justify to the FCC. ETFs are the mechanism carriers use to keep customers from jumping ship prior to the end of the original service contract, which is typically 2 years.

The timing of the AT&T move leaves one to wonder if the carrier is about to lose exclusivity for the carrying the iPhone in the U.S. The rumors that the iPhone is going to Verizon and other carriers have been around for a long time and Apple (s aapl) is expected to announce the next generation iPhone in just a few weeks. AT&T could be anticipating the willingness of customers who love the iPhone but hate the network to jump ship.

Related GigaOM Pro Content (sub req’d): How AT&T Will Deal With iPad Data Traffic