Verizon iPhone Realities

Question

I’m getting close to the end of my cell phone contract with AT&T and really want to get the newest version of the iPhone. Are the rumors about Verizon getting the iPhone true and how soon will it happen?

- Vanessa

Answer

This question was answered on February 18, 2010. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

The runaway success of the iPhone despite the complaints by AT&T customers has been nothing short of miraculous.

Devotees of the trend-setting device (including myself) have been willing to put up with ‘less than desirable service’ from the voice and data network at AT&T because the device is that compelling.

The ongoing rumors of Verizon getting the iPhone continue to ebb and flow as the current exclusivity agreement between Apple and AT&T is set to expire in June of 2010.

While anyone with even the slightest business sense can see that Apple’s smartphone market share would flourish if Verizon where to get the iPhone, most analysts are expecting that Apple will extend the exclusive deal with AT&T for at least another year or maybe even two.

One of the biggest reasons the analysts are making this prediction is based on the recent launch of the iPad which is also exclusively an AT&T device for the 3G connection.

The speculation that Apple would announce the Verizon iPhone during last January’s Apple event was mounting as the iPad launch event neared, but in the end, we did not hear Job’s mutter his classic “One more thing” to make a big introduction about the Vz iPhone.

More importantly, many current iPhone users have a misconception of what would happen if Verizon suddenly got the iPhone

Existing iPhones are designed to work on GSM (Global System for Mobile) networks; Verizon’s network is CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access).

This means that current iPhone users could not simply switch over to the Verizon network with their existing phones, they would need to get a new CDMA version of the iPhone (which currently does not exist).

In Western Europe, GSM is the prevailing technology for all the networks and the iPhone, which is available from all the carriers, is the top selling device Getting your current iPhone to work in Europe is a snap (requires you to change the SIM card to the provider you choose) but here in the U.S it’s a completely different story.

Besides AT&T, T-Mobile uses GSM, while Verizon, Sprint and smaller carriers like MetroPCS and U.S Cellular use CDMA If Apple were to extend the iPhone to T-Mobile, then current phones could simply switch over.

Since no one really knows what is going to happen for sure in June, you have to make a judgment call If you listen to the analysts, they are predicting the end of 2011 is the earliest that they see the end of the AT&T exclusivity.

The ability for Apple to keep a lid on a Verizon capable CDMA iPhone if it were in existence would be quite difficult in today’s ‘everyone can report anything’ with their camera phone world that we live in.

If you want to play it safe, Apple allows you to continue on your current plan on a month-to-month basis at the end of your contract, so you could take the wait and see approach until June.

I personally am not too worried about when Verizon gets the iPhone because if my suspicions are correct, Verizon will likely have incentives that offer to pay early termination fees especially if your family or your organization has a lot of phones.

When (or if) Verizon gets an iPhone, it will essentially be a new device because the radio system (CDMA) will be a first generation, so I wouldn’t be all that anxious to be a guinea pig in the early stages of the release anyway.

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Author

Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on February 18, 2010