One of the most common remarks you’ll see in iPhone-related discussion is the “If iPhone were on Verizon Wireless” comment. Though phrased differently, they’re usually the same sentiment…discussing how much better the iPhone experience would be on Verizon, and about how many more people would become satisfied iPhone users.
Most people seem to agree that Verizon Wireless’ data network is better.
When Google and Verizon officially announced their partnership this week, Google CEO Eric Schmidt practically gushed at the quality of Verizon’s network, saying it’s “absolutely a fact that Verizon’s data network is the best in the US by far.”
Despite this, we’ve heard from experts for quite some time that the iPhone is not going to land on Verizon Wireless. It has, after all, not proven detrimental to Verizon’s subscriber base, and appears to be only causing difficulty for the AT&T network itself.
At the CTIA Wireless conference yesterday, AT&T CTO John Donovan said his network’s data traffic has grown by 4.932% in the two-and-one-half years that it has been the sole US supplier of Apple’s iPhone, while voice traffic has grown only by a factor of two. The company has devoted a considerable amount of energy to keeping up with this deluge of traffic.
Comments from AT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega yesterday fueled rumors that the company may charge more for heavy data consumers, or even begin throttling them.
De la Vega’s worrisome statement yesterday was this: “We have to manage the network to make sure that the few cannot crowd out the many” — an allusion to research that said that 3% of all of AT&T’s customers consume 40% of the bandwidth.
It’s the sort of ratio commonly heard when providers argue in favor of throttling, but historically it’s been used to speak out against P2P file sharing, and not simple smartphone users. So the statement could be referring to 3G modems or subsidized 3G netbooks, and not necessarily the iPhone.
But the public is now fully aware of AT&T’s data burden because of the iPhone, so Verizon Wireless has jumped at the chance. This week, the carrier leveraged the perceived shortcomings of AT&T’s network for a new set of television ads claiming that its 3G coverage is five times better than AT&T’s. Verizon Wireless spokesman Jeffrey Nelson said yesterday, “It’s worth noting that by the time they finish their 3G network buildout in 2011, which Mr. Donovan noted in his keynote this morning, we’ll already have launched at least 25-30 markets with 4G LTE.”
IDC Analyst Scott Ellison predicted this week that Verizon isn’t just going to use the changing public opinion of AT&T as a marketing platform, but also as the basis of a rate hike. It would be the sort of situation where customers feel their higher rates are justified by better service.
If Verizon had the iPhone clogging up its network, it couldn’t necessarily promise better quality service for all its users. That could be one big reason why Verizon won’t be getting the iPhone any time soon.