Would a Verizon iPhone Really Be That Great?

On June 11, 2010

Verizon iPhoneAll the signs are there.  AT&T increased their early termination fee.  The company increased the cost of a data plan (yes, it could be argued that they decreased it, but most data-heavy users are iPhone users).  It seems pretty obvious that the marriage is ending soon (probably within the next year if/when Verizon gets its LTE network running) and AT&T knows it.

The question is, would we really do that much better with a Verizon iPhone?  In terms of reception, almost certainly.  Verizon could even slap AT&T in the face by keeping an unlimited data plan, although I tend to doubt they will if they get the iPhone.

The trick is, both Verizon and Apple are notorious control freaks.  While such a marriage would benefit both partners, there is the question of who makes money from music, video conferencing, and/or movies.  Obviously, Apple generates their shared funds with developers for apps, and takes their cuts for music from the artists, but what about their new Facetime feature?  Any carrier who’s lowered the bandwidth limits and has additional fees for over usage can start to see Facetime and Video as an obvious way to make a lot more profit from those heavy users of the network.  In fact, if AT&T or Verizon got their networks up to speed, then the carrier should almost encourage users to use Facetime.  Of course they would need to add the ability to use Facetime over 3G (but we know thats coming eventually).  With the new Android phones getting front facing cameras, and Skype already talking about integrating with Facetime, its just a matter of time before every smartphone ends up with a Facetime equivalent.  Hopefully, Apple will be able to make their version the standard so all the various networks could connect with one another when making video calls.

But lets get back to a Verizon iPhone.

The real question is whether Verizon’s infrastructure (again, assuming it’s a brand new LTE network) could handle the data-heavy requirements of a few million new users via the iPhone.  Even though Verizon has better coverage, does it really have the available bandwidth for tens of millions of iPhone users?  If Verizon was smart, they would have started to upgrade their network years ago (since I’m sure Android is also pretty taxing on their systems) and maybe they would be better prepared than AT&T was when it got the first iPhone.  The good news is that such a mass exodus from AT&T would certainly lighten the load on AT&T’s network and likely improve reception overall.

At the end of the day though, I think that any network that added tens of million iphone users to their infrastructure would have probably seen the same difficulty AT&T experienced.  Unfortunately for AT&T that difficulty also tarnished its image quite a bit.

What do you think?  Would a Verizon iPhone be an improvement over AT&T, or would it just be more of the same?