I'm waiting for the Verizon iPhone

This is something heard frequently from savvy smartphone shoppers. The general perception is that Verizon offers the best cell phone service available in the US, and that may actually be true. As discussed previously the difference between CDMA and GSM is such that a wireless provider gets better range and more power out of CDMA towers and phones than GSM. GSM offers advanced features, more simultaneous connections per tower and more conservative power usage for handsets, allowing the phones to be lighter and smaller, all at the cost of reduced range which means more towers are needed to cover the same area.

There are rumors, presented as fact, in a variety of reputable news sources stating that a Verizon iPhone is just around the corner. Stories have appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and countless others. They point to release at various times, but generally they seem to be settling on January, 2011. At this point exclusivity on AT&T serves AT&T more than it does Apple and in other markets around the world Apple has already moved to multiple carriers, so it would make sense. But in those other markets all the carriers were GSM...

If Verizon gets an iPhone would it run on CDMA or GSM?

Many pundits seem convinced that Apple will create a CDMA iPhone for Verizon, but CDMA is old technology and Apple has long been a technology leader. In addition, a Verizon iPhone would be hampered if it ran on CDMA which doesn't handle much of what GSM offers, like simultaneous voice and data transmissions. A CDMA iPhone would also likely have to be physically larger to accommodate a bigger battery that would likely be required by CDMA. Verizon has already begun its transition to LTE, its implementation of GSM, and has announced its intention to have LTE running in 2011. In fact, LTE is already operational in some areas.

A CDMA iPhone doesn't seem to make much sense, but an iPhone that runs on Verizon's implementation of GSM, LTE, could be a different story. But then there are the politics behind Apple's choice for a second carrier. Verizon is the one many hope would be the next carrier in the US to get the iPhone, but Apple may not be so interested in that. When the iPhone was first released Apple spoke with Verizon and with AT&T and while AT&T was quick to see Apple's vision for the iPhone and agree to build infrastructure to match the increased data needs, Verizon offered essentially nothing, treating Apple as just another handset manufacturer. Apple knows well that if Verizon gets the iPhone it's more of a gift to Verizon than it is to Apple. Sprint, on the other hand, would likely be willing to adjust their business in much the same way that AT&T was willing, and perhaps AT&T would be less threatened by Sprint and thus more inclined to continue its level of cooperation.

Solutions Consulting - 310-838-5224 or benlevy@rockinbeat.com