Verizon: We’re ready for the iPhone

Should the iPhone ever be sold on other wireless carriers besides AT&T, Verizon Wireless said it can handle the spike in data use that would follow.

“We have put things in place already,” Anthony Melone, Verizon Wireless’ Chief Technology Officer, told BusinessWeek. “We are prepared to support that traffic.”

To be clear, that’s not a confirmation that the iPhone will go to Verizon Wireless, as rumors have suggested, and as many Verizon customers have wished. Verizon executives have told BusinessWeek that they occasionally discuss partnerships with Apple executives, and it’s assumed that eventually AT&T will lose its exclusive deal with Apple, but when that will happen is not public knowledge.

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Still, Melone said Verizon has upgraded its network to the point where it could handle the iPhone’s capacity, having invested $19 billion on its network over the last three years.

Actually, that sounds a little light to me. By comparison, AT&T said it invested $18 billion in network upgrades this year alone. Over two years, that investment will be $28 billion, according to Internet News. Sure, that’s of little consolation to people in New York and San Francisco, who have long suffered dead zones and dropped calls, but it’s more than what Verizon has spent this year. Melone said his company’s investments have been the most consistent of any carrier over the last 10 years.

AT&T is effectively playing catch up after being overwhelmed by the iPhone. Over the last three years, data use on AT&T’s network has increased by 5,000 percent. According to Melone, Verizon’s bandwidth increase was a mere 1,000 percent. It has the luxury of boosting its bandwidth knowing how much iPhone users will need. When the phone launched in 2007, AT&T didn’t understand how wildly popular — and demanding — the iPhone would be.

I have issues with the way AT&T looks down on its customers, as if their bandwidth use needs to be mitigated. However, I think the carrier’s received a little more flack than it deserves, as its inability to provide flawless iPhone service made Verizon look good, even as it sat on the sidelines. But if Verizon can carry the iPhone without any problems, it’ll look even better.

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