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Verizon CEO Crushes Hopes of 1.4M AT&T Subscribers

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Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg

Despite supplier rumors that seemed to indicate we’d see a Verizon (s vzn) iPhone early on in the new year, recent comments by Verizon’s own CEO have put a damper on those hopes. CEO Ivan Seidenberg said at the Goldman Sachs Investor conference that Apple’s (s aapl) device won’t appear on his company’s network until it’s ready for the long-term evolution (LTE) network Verizon is so fervent about.

Seidenberg mostly emphasized the LTE network itself, and LTE-based devices, like the Android (s goog) phones Verizon’s had so much success with. It seems like both a bit of a shot at Apple, and an attempt to distance the company from the rumors, out of apparent fear that when the rumors prove untrue, Verizon stock will suffer.

Verizon expects to see its 4G network cover 90 percent of the U.S. by 2012, and is staking its future on devices that work with the new technology. Apple tends to be a late adopter of new wireless tech, only updating when the infrastructure is already in place and the demand is strong. Don’t expect Cupertino to jump through any hoops to beat other manufacturers to the LTE party.

That’s not going to be welcome news for the reported 1.4 million AT&T (s att) iPhone owners who would reportedly switch to Verizon if given the chance, according to a survey by Credit Suisse (c cs). For those keeping score, that’s almost a full quarter of all of AT&T’s iPhone customers. Not exactly what you’d call an acceptable loss. Luckily, AT&T would have a chance to convince them to stay, since only 3 percent would break their current contract owing to the high cost of early cancellation.

Verizon’s playing a high-risk game by counting on that demand to stick around while it waits for Apple to produce an iPhone that’s LTE compatible. If AT&T can improve their service, they may be the big winners in this waiting game.

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12 Responses to “Verizon CEO Crushes Hopes of 1.4M AT&T Subscribers”

  1. AT&T has faster downlink speeds in almost every market. Why people would leave to Verizon, I have no idea, unless they live in rural areas because of Verizon’s overall better coverage. Fine by me, a quarter of iPhone users migrating to Verizon would leave AT&T with even faster speeds. I think Verizon realizes how crappy their network would be with over a million new iPhone subs on top of the android subs they are packing. That is why they rather wait until they build their 700 MHz with LTE that will be able to handle the data hungry iPhone subs.

  2. The real winners could be those of us who stay with AT&T as some leave for Verizon. Less congestion on AT&T for us, more headaches for Verizon and their subscribers. Where I live, AT&T has kept pace quite well (I know since I switched from Verizon) and fewer iPhones on any network is good news for the remaining iPhone users.

  3. Yeah, this is ruining my day too. I’ve been holding out, suffering with a Blackberry but on a superior (Verizon) network. But here’s a question, based on a comment a friend made to me: is it the network (AT&T) or is it the iPhone? His comment was basically this: AT&T is not the problem. Customers with regular AT&T cell phones don’t have nearly the problems that iPhone users have with dropped calls, poor coverage, etc. His argument is; Apple hasn’t figured out how to make a good phone yet. The device is amazing for everything else, it’s the phone that’s no good. So, what makes us think they can solve the problem if they offer a Verizon phone? Is it a CDMA issue?

    I don’t know the answer, but it stopped me in my tracks. Does anyone else have an opinion on this stance?

  4. Marc Love

    Well that just ruined my day. I’ve been praying my iPhone 3G would survive the next couple months cause I refuse to sign another AT&T contract. I guess its time to take the plunge and buy a Droid. You’re killin me Apple & Verizon.

  5. Disappointed AT&T users? What about us Verizon users who’ve been waiting patiently? Any way you look at it, we’re the ones loosing out. Switch to AT&T and it is confirmed I can’t get coverage at all at my weekend home. Stay on Verizon and I can’t get the iPhone which will use the 100+ apps I’ve already bought for my iPod Touch and iPad. I’m getting to the point where I’ll start rooting for Android phones on carriers besides Verizon and AT&T.

    • “I’m getting to the point where I’ll start rooting for Android phones on carriers besides Verizon and AT&T.”

      You mean like the Sprint (HTC EVO 4G, Samsung Epic 4G) or T-Mobile (Motorola CLIQ, Samsung Behold II, Garmin-Asus Garminfone)?

  6. I cannot just believe that a blog on the GigaOM network is taking the Verizon CEOs word and shooting off conclusions based on what he said. We all remember that Jobs once said that Apple is not doing a phone or an iPad and you think that if he is cutting a deal with Verizon, he will let the CEO announce that so that Apple’s revenue from AT&T ceases rightaway. Come on!

    If the AT&T CEO was recently pictured with a Samsung in hand praising it, it’s time we conclude that Apple is done doing business with them.

    • If Verizon was going to have the iPhone in the near future, why would he publicly say “we’re not going to have it for at least a year, and only after Jobs makes a special version just for us?” If he’s concerned about his subscriber base, it would make more sense for him to say the opposite; denying you’ll have the hot phone makes little business sense.

      • Exactly right, Apple is not all of the sudden going to reverse their entire iPhone philosophy and start making phones for specific carriers. Apple will make their phone and if you want to support it then it’s up to you to meet their requirements not the other way around..