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1/10/2011
07:44 PM
Gina Smith
Gina Smith
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Verizon iPhone Beckons

Tuesday's Rumored Verizon Announcement Has iPhone Users Buzzing

That sound you hear on your iPhone isn't just a failing connection. It's the sound of AT&T weeping.

Execs there should be freaking. AT&T, the only game in town for wireless iPhone service, is about to get serious competition from Verizon. At tomorrow's scheduled Verizon announcement (11 a.m. ET) in New York, Verizon/Apple will likely announce the Verizon iPhone4.

And then the customer bleed will start.

They will probably announce an iPhone with an antenna set to use Verizon's CDMA network, as opposed to the GSM network technology AT&T uses. At any rate, their announcement will begin the era that ends Apple's dumb exclusive with AT&T.

Already, the snark is starting. Earlier today, a full day before the so-called "secret major" announcement Verizon is making, the official Verizon account posted a tweet about CES (now old news) from an iPhone. Obviously the tweet didn't come from an AT&T phone, but it was from an iPhone.

On one of the business blogs, an AT&T PR honcho delivered an official statement dissing CDMA technology, saying that with CDMA, iPhone users would not be "ready for life in the slow lane." Thanks for confirming the upcoming Verizon announcement, bro!

Who's he kidding? Whether it's AT&T's fault or Apple's -- doesn't matter -- the fact is that iPhone users hate the service they get as it stands now. And they blame AT&T's wireless for that. Everyone knows how unreliable the iPhone with AT&T is. Dropped calls disgust everyone. By everyone, I mean anyone who ever had any kind of a cell phone before the iPhone. Remember when your phone actually worked through an entire day of calls without dropping? I can. Sort of.

Plus the current service is expensive. The best deal AT&T offers is 2Gb for $25 month on the iPhone.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out pretty much what Verizon is going to announce tomorrow and probably deliver shortly: Faster, more reliable service and an unlimited data plan.

Back in September, Credit Suisse made a prediction that AT&T would lose nearly a quarter of its users if Verizon (with Sprint and T-Mobile to follow, in all likelihood) came in.

So the competition is coming. Tomorrow. We'll have all the details in the morning, by the time California wakes up. But this is a no-brainer.

I love the old Yogi Berra-ism: "The hardest thing to predict is the future." Not this time. The future is fixing the dropped call problem and expense of the current AT&T/iPhone bundle. Maybe Verizon will surprise everyone with some other secrets, but the main one is obvious at this point.

For AT&T, the future is testers everywhere analyzing how much faster or more reliable Verizon's iPhone service will be. And AT&T will be wishing for the good old days of exclusivity, when people actually pondered whether it was the quality of AT&T's service or the sheer number of people using its network via iPhones to blame. It doesn't matter.

And at any rate, it's about time. A monopoly always sucks air. I'll be first to bail for an unlimited data deal if Verizon can deliver even a fraction of improved service over AT&T's. But we'll see. We'll see.

Check this space tomorrow. And stop crying, AT&T. Stand and deliver. If you can. And if you can't, why haven't you already done so?

In San Francisco for Techweb and the upcoming BYTE.com, I'm Gina Smith.

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