AT&T Hires 2,000 Workers before Launch of Apple’s iPhone

The
Associated Press

AT&T,
which will be the exclusive carrier of Apple’s much-hyped new iPhone, has hired
2,000 extra workers to staff its company-owned stores for the launch, a
spokesman said Thursday.

The
iPhone, a combination cell phone, media player and wireless Web device, will be
available only at stores owned by Apple and AT&T and on Apple’s Web site
when it is launched on June 29.

To handle
the expected crush of customers, AT&T has hired 2,000 additional employees
– mostly college students – for the summer, said AT&T spokesman Michael
Coe.

On the day
of the launch, AT&T’s 1,800 company-owned stores will close at 4:30 p.m. to
prepare for the 6 p.m. launch in each market.

Neither
AT&T nor Apple has disclosed how many devices will be available at launch,
but Coe said if AT&T stores run out, customers will be able to purchase an
iPhone at the store and have it shipped to them when it’s available.

AT&T
has said customers who purchase the iPhone, which will retail for $499 and
$599, will have to sign up for two years of service, but the cost of the
service plans hasn’t been announced.

AT&T
and Apple have not disclosed how customers who purchase iPhones from one of
Apple’s 162

U.S.
stores will get wireless service activated.

Apple
earlier said the iPhone would be sold on a first-come first-serve basis, but
company spokesman Steve Dowling declined Thursday to say whether it has hired
additional staff for the product launch.

More than
1 million people have signed up for more information from AT&T about the
iPhone. Chief Executive Randall Stephenson said Wednesday that nearly 40% were
not customers of AT&T, which is the nation’s largest wireless provider with
62 million subscribers.