Report: Verizon in talks with Apple to become iPhone carrier

A deal would end AT&T's grip as sole U.S. carrier of the iPhone

A news report today said Verizon Wireless and Apple Inc. are discussing possibly developing an iPhone that would work for Verizon over its CDMA-based wireless network.

The report, in USA Today, cited unnamed sources familiar with the talks.

"We don't have anything to add to the existing conversation," a Verizon spokeswoman said today. "We talk to a number of vendors about a number of devices, but this isn't something we are confirming at this time."

Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

The current iPhone is sold by Apple and AT&T Inc. and runs exclusively in the U.S. over the AT&T GSM network. AT&T is reportedly seeking to extend its agreement as the sole carrier beyond 2010 by a year.

A spokesman at AT&T reached today said only that AT&T has an exclusive, multiyear agreement with Apple to sell the iPhone.

He pointed to comments made in Apple's latest earnings call by Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook when asked about whether Apple might switch its exclusive deal with AT&T. "We view AT&T as a very good partner. We have no plan to change it," Cook said in the call. "Verizon is on CDMA, and we wanted one phone [network] for the whole world."

GSM is widely adopted globally, and its wide usage was cited by Apple when the iPhone first appeared in 2007. AT&T last week said it signed up 1.6 million iPhone customers during the first quarter, and 40% were new to AT&T.

Analysts have speculated that Apple could be considering other carriers to sell the iPhone to increase the number of users. Phone customers in the U.S. generally work with only one carrier, and since Verizon Wireless has 80 million customers, it would be a lucrative base for Apple.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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