After months –- scratch that –- years of speculation, Verizon Wireless will finally begin carrying the Apple iPhone in February.
At a press conference in New York City yesterday, Verizon COO Lowell McAdam announced the iPhone will be available on his company’s network early next month, wrote Erica Ogg of CNET News (Jan. 11). “It’s the same model iPhone 4 that AT&T and international carriers currently sell except that it connects to the CDMA network instead of GSM.”
Beginning Feb. 10, a 16GB model will cost $199.99 with a two-year contract, according to Verizon’s website. The 32GB model will sell for $299.99. Verizon will also be offering an extra Wi-Fi “hot spot” feature for the iPhone, meaning up to five Wi-Fi devices can connect to the phone at a time.
The phone will first become available to existing Verizon customers, by pre-order, starting Feb. 3.
“Verizon getting its hands on the iPhone means AT&T is no longer the only iPhone carrier in the U.S. AT&T had an exclusive contract with Apple for what was initially reported to be five years, starting in 2007,” noted Ogg.
On Monday (Jan. 10), Spencer E. Ante and Yukari Iwatani Kane of the Wall Street Journal reported that Verizon is confident its network can handle a potentially disastrous load: millions of iPhone subscribers using its unlimited data use plan. However, offering such plans, Ante and Kane wrote, “would provide (Verizon) a key means of distinguishing its service from rival AT&T, which limits how much Internet data such as videos and photos its customers may use each month.”
Ante and Kane point out that AT&T endured criticism of its network quality since it launched the original iPhone in the U.S. in 2007. With the belief that heavy iPhone users overtaxed AT&T’s network, the company introduced last summer new iPhone/smartphone customers pricing plans that cap how much data they send and receive.
Verizon, however, has yet to announce pricing for its monthly unlimited iPhone data plan. Analysts are speculating such a plan could cost up to $120 a month, reported Matt Hamblen of Computerworld (Jan. 11).
“Data plans for Verizon iPhone could range from $20 to $90 a month or even $120 unlimited a month,” said Rob Enderle, an analyst at Enderle Group, as quoted by Hamblen. “The iPhone uses an awful lot of data, so they will have to charge heavily for data and it will be fairly expensive.”
Other analysts said it would be unwise for Verizon to charge so much, especially if the iPhone data plan ends up being different from other Verizon smartphones running Android or other operating systems, Hamblen added.