iPhone and Verizon sitting in a tree

Verizon LTE iPhone4V
[Via I, Cringely]

No insider info here, no leaked secrets, just an aging but wily geek putting himself in the place of Verizon Wireless and guessing how that mobile carrier will handle next year’s rumored iPhone introduction on its U. S. network. I’d go for a knockout punch and I think Verizon will, too.

Apple’s iPhone is coming to Verizon sometime early next year as AT&T loses its exclusive deal for the iconic smartphone. It could be as soon as January. Verizon will want to use this opportunity to grab disaffected iPhone users from AT&T because surveys have shown American iPhone users love their handsets, but not their carrier. So Verizon, which already appears to have the better network, will have to emphasize that advantage. I expect they’ll do so by making the iPhone their first Long-Term Evolution (LTE) 4G handset.

It’s the network, stupid. To get a big win from whatever huge amount Verizon is no-doubt paying Apple, the company has to steal customers from other carriers, not just get existing Verizon users to buy subsidized iPhones. AT&T’s weakness is its perceived network quality and unwillingness to allow iPhones to act as WiFi hotspots, called tethering. That’s why I think Verizon will make its iPhone LTE capable and allow it to do tethering with the goal of getting AT&T iPhone users to defect in droves.

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This would be a really smart thing to do. It would skyrocket acceptance of Verizon LTE access. It would drive huge expansion of iPhone sales. It would drive competition in all manner of forms.

It would put ATT in a tough spot while giving Verizon a chance to show off its new network. Such a win-win for all of us. And according to Verizon, I have access to LTE. Same with my parents.

My contract with ATT has been up for a while, as I have been waiting to see what would happen with Verizon. If this is it, I’ll be moving my service.

Which probably means it won’t happen. Jobs is smart enough to see the benefits but I think few other corporate leaders get it.