New iPhone Could End AT&T's U.S. Monopoly
By YUKARI IWATANI KANE, TING-I TSAI And NIRAJ SHETH MARCH 30, 2010
Apple Inc. plans to begin producing this year a new iPhone that could allow U.S. phone carriers other than AT&T Inc. to sell the iconic gadget, said people briefed by the company.
The new iPhone would work on a type of wireless network called CDMA, these people said. CDMA is used by Verizon Wireless, AT&T's main competitor, as well as Sprint Nextel Corp. and a handful of cellular operators in countries including South Korea and Japan. The vast majority of carriers world-wide, including AT&T, use another technology called GSM.
With Apple developing a phone with CDMA capability, its exclusive U.S. arrangement with AT&T dating to 2007 appears set to end.
Verizon Wireless, owned by Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group PLC, declined to comment. An AT&T spokesman said: "There has been lots of incorrect speculation on CDMA iPhones for a long time. We haven't seen one yet and only Apple knows when that might occur." Apple declined to comment.
Separately, Apple plans to release a new version of its current iPhone this summer, continuing its practice of annual upgrades at about the same time of year, said people briefed on the matter. The model is likely to be thinner and have a faster processor, two people familiar with the device said.