Verizon Wireless is reportedly prepping its network to transmit simultaneous voice and data, in anticipation of carrying the iPhone in early 2011.
However, Verizon executive Brian Higgins gave the Wall Street Journal no idea of when such capability would be active on the company's network. "I think there are fringe cases where something like that could be terribly important," the newspaper quoted him as saying Oct. 9. "For the vast majority of customers, I don't think it's a terribly important use case."
The Journal has insisted for days that a Verizon-ready iPhone will appear within the next few months, citing sources apparently in talks with Apple. Not to be outdone, The New York Times ran an Oct. 8 story about the smartphone's apparently imminent arrival on Verizon, referencing "a person who is in direct contact with Apple."
For months, rumors have circulated that Apple intends to break its iPhone exclusivity with AT&T and release the smartphone to other carriers in the United States. In August, for example, TechCrunch reported that Apple was negotiating with manufacturers over parts for a Verizon phone, with a tentative launch date of early 2011.
"Sources with knowledge of this entire situation have assured me that Apple has submitted orders for millions of units with Qualcomm CDMA chipsets for a Verizon iPhone run due in December," read that Aug. 8 TechCrunch posting. "This production run would likely be for a January launch, and I'd bet the phone is nearly 100 [percent] consistent with the current iPhone 4 (with a fixed insulator on the antenna)."
AT&T's public documents suggest a company prepping itself to lose its lock on the iPhone. "We believe offering a wide variety of handsets reduces the dependence on any single handset as these products evolve," the carrier wrote in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing for the quarter ended June 30. "In addition, offering a number of attractive handsets on an exclusive basis distinguishes us from our competitors."
It has been generally assumed that the "dependence on any single handset" mention is a reference to the iPhone. Apple executives have remained characteristically tight-lipped about carrier plans for their flagship device, even as their counterparts at Verizon regularly talk up their network's ability to handle the increased demand that would come with a horde of data-hungry iPhone users. Although AT&T has seen its revenues buoyed by the iPhone's presence in their smartphone lineup, the resulting strain on its network has resulted in a high level of user complaints.
However, AT&T does like to boast of its network's ability to carry simultaneous voice and data.