Verizon's Network Robust Enough for an iPhone: Report

Verizon's Android customers on average use more megabytes per month than AT&T's iPhone users, says a new report, suggesting that Verizon could handle an iPhone business.

The Apple iPhone could find a good home in Verizon Wireless, new data suggests.

According to a report from Majestic Research and Validas, Android smartphone users on the Verizon Wireless network consume more megabytes of data per month than the average iPhone user on the AT&T network. While AT&T has 16.5 million iPhone users, far more than Verizon's 9 million Android customers, the data, reported Oct. 11 by the Wall Street Journal, nonetheless suggests that Verizon may be more prepared to support the intense data demands of iPhone users than has been earlier suggested.

While neither Apple nor Verizon has confirmed that Verizon will get an iPhone, several news sources, citing sources insisting on anonymity, for fear of hurting their relationship with the secrecy-demanding Apple, have reported that a Verizon iPhone is imminent, if not in late 2010 then early 2011.

While Verizon's Android customers are just more than half of AT&T's iPhone customers, Verizon quietly added them in the space of a year, while AT&T's struggles to support the user base it began acquiring with the 2007 launch of the original iPhone has been the topic of countless headlines. In a May customer satisfaction survey by ChangeWave, AT&T placed last (Verizon placed first), with customers reporting more dropped calls than on any other network. Though AT&T has spent billions on its network and even made available a free app, Mark the Spot, that lets customers document where they experience poor service.

Discussing a Verizon iPhone on Bloomberg Television in June, Gleacher & Co. analyst Brian Marshall described AT&T as having been "brought to its knees" by the iPhone and added, "I worry about the same thing for Verizon." (In AT&T's defense, the phenomenon of mobile phone use-and amounts of data use-ushered in by the iPhone were until then unprecedented.)

It seems such worrying may not be necessary.

"Verizon has benefited from AT&T's experience with the iPhone, which gave Verizon the chance to see what happens when millions of data-hungry customers come onto a network in a very short amount of time," analyst Ken Hyers, with Technology Business Research, told eWEEK. "Verizon obviously learned from AT&T's experience, which allowed it to add millions of Android customers in 2010 with barely a hiccup."

Hyers adds that Verizon has built its reputation on the quality of its network, and it's not about to damage that. "I am quite certain that Verizon would not bring a new device onto its network if it thought there was any chance that it would impact or destabilize its network," he said.

Analyst Roger Kay, with Endpoint Technologies, said that once iPhone users can compare networks, Verizon's coverage advantage will be clear.

"AT&T got caught flat-footed, it's true, and Verizon has had a lot more lead time to prepare, but I think Verizon iPhone customers will tend to be pleased overall by comparison," Kay told eWEEK.

As for the Verizon Android customers using more megabytes than AT&T's iPhone users, Kay said they're simply taking advantage of what's presently available to them. He offered the example of checking the weather.

"The best way to get a sense of the weather is to view the map in motion, which takes filling a series of detailed screens from a remote database. I wait while AT&T goes to fetch all, say, six screens, one at a time, over 3G, and I don't do other things. If my map filled up quickly, I'd view it and move on to the next, perhaps also data-intensive, task," he said.

Regarding Verizon customers, Kay said: "They do because they can."