Is the AT&T Data Price Hike Good News for Sprint, T-Mobile USA?

Starting today, new data service plans with AT&T (NYSE:T) are going to cost customers as much as 33 percent more per month, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The price hike is part of a strategy by the company to manage a wireless data growth rate of 40 percent per year and benefit from the demand for data-loving devices like Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone.

Although new customers will pay $5 more per month for each plan tier, they will receive more data than before. The price increases could cause some customers to be lured away — at least in the short term — by competitors with unlimited plans, such as Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) or Deutsche Telekom’s (DTEGY) T-Mobile USA, said Macquarie Securities analyst Kevin Smithen.