Verizon iPhone Rumors Heat Up (Again)

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Every other month, there seems to be speculation that Verizon (Stock Quote: VZ) will get its hands on the iPhone, but this past weekend, the rumors started to take on a new life.

TechCrunch, an influential technology blog, reports Apple (Stock Quote: AAPL) placed orders for millions of CDMA chipsets, the wireless technology used by Verizon. AT&T, which owns exclusive rights to the iPhone, relies on a different wireless technology called GSM.

According to TechCrunch, which received this information from sources close to Apple, “all of the signals point” to a Verizon iPhone coming to stores by January of next year. This would fit the timeline established by other rumors from earlier this year. However, this contradicts official statements from Apple that maintain AT&T (Stock Quote: T) has a five year exclusivity contract that won’t expire until 2012.

Unlike in the past, the current Verizon iPhone speculation does not rely solely on insider whispers. Several publications have pointed to AT&T’s recent announcement that it’s pursuing a strategy to limit its “dependence on any single handset” device. Translation: AT&T is all but admitting that they are looking for a backup to the iPhone because they know their time is limited.

Beyond this, there’s the fact that earlier this year AT&T more than doubled its early termination fee on the iPhone to $325. When you think about it, there’s little incentive for the company to do so unless they are worried that customers would start fleeing en masse. And it's likely that the only reason iPhone users (who are famously loyal to the product) would do so is if another phone company offered the same device.

But will a Verizon iPhone mean better service for customers? Not necessarily. Verizon recently ranked worse than AT&T in customer care and both companies have resorted to unpopular tactics like getting rid of unlimited data plans on smartphones.

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