Verizon is redoubling its efforts to persuade Apple to bring the iPhone its Verizon Wireless network. The iPhone could become available to Verizon customers as early as 2010, according to reports from USA Today. The move would put an end to AT&T’s exclusive deal with Apple to offer the iPhone on its network in U.S. That would mean the new iPhone, expected to launch this summer, might be the last one available only on AT&T.
AT&T’s GSM network has been considered one of the iPhone’s weak spots, with users complaining about 3G data service speeds and reliability. Apple could be attracted to Verizon not only because of its perceived network reliability and great coverage, but also by reports that its wireless network will soon get a speed bump when Verizon updates its network from 3G to 4G. AT&T also has 4G ambitions. If Apple jumps from AT&T’s network with the iPhone to Verizon’s, it would mark the first CDMA-based iPhone and put an end to AT&T’s exclusive relationship with Apple, which it has been trying hard to keep. AT&T’s iPhone exclusivity contract with AT&T ends in 2010.
A Verizon iPhone a Long Shot?
The current generation of iPhone handsets work on GSM technology, used by most carriers here in the U.S. and all over the world. But what makes me take this rumor with a pinch of salt is that a CDMA (used mainly in the U.S. and Canada) version of the iPhone for Verizon coming in 2010 means that Apple will have to develop a totally new device for Verizon’s network. Not likely, as this would mean much higher production costs for the Cupertino company.
Then again, Verizon’s customer base of 80 million iPhone-less customers might represent a significant incentive to tweak the iPhone for CDMA support.
Things might change in 2011, though, when Verizon is set to roll out the latest 4G wireless protocol and so are most of the European carriers (a major secondary market for Apple). It will be interesting then to see whether both Verizon and AT&T will get the iPhone, so the two carriers would have to battle it out in tariff prices and network reliability rather than reigning supreme with handset exclusivity.
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