Verizon vs AT&T: Things to Consider Before Selecting a Network and an iPhone

Written By Sam on 13 January 2011

Rumors turned to reality when Verizon finally and officially announced it would offer customers Apple’s iPhone 4 on its networks. New customers can get the iPhone 4 on 10 February and after, while existing customers can pre-order their handsets from Feb 3. The launch means iPhone users in the US are now finally free from having to stick to only one carrier, AT&T. Whether this will see a mass migration from AT&T to Verizon remains to be seen but there are considerations a user would be advised to review before making a decision.

The hardware of the iPhone 4 offered by both is essentially the same, except that AT&T users can simultaneously use data and voice while the CDMA version on Verizon limits usage to only one at a time.

Service is the main aspect to be considered and that too perfect service in the area where a customer resides should be the deciding factor. So, in areas like San Francisco’s Bay Area and New York City where AT&T services have come in for criticism due to network congestion, Verizon may be marginally better. However, if there is a huge demand for its iPhone4, then they too may show similar network congestion. Verizon seem to be aware of this possibility and is understood to have prepared an advanced network capacity with built in margins to address this issue. Conversely, if a significant number of AT&T customers switch over to Verizon, the load on its networks should reduce and provide existing customers fewer problems of congestion.

The next in line for consideration is the 3G services. Both use essentially different platforms. Verizon operates on the CDMA platform, offering better services and coverage all over the US. However, 3G over CDMA is slightly slower compared to GSM. Actual users may not be able to distinguish the speed difference. However, connectivity here is the main consideration and if congestion is present, then users might be tempted to migrate.

Verizon’s iPhone offer is expected to draw in scores of new customers but existing customers are also likely to go in for the attractive and irresistible iPhone; so there may not be that dramatic a change in its customer base. Disgruntled AT&T customers might flip for Verizon in numbers.

One important consideration is that AT&T’s GSM-based iPhone will work internationally since most cellular operators now use this technology over CDMA. It might be expensive as roaming tariffs are high but it lets you stay connected.

CDMA restrictions on simultaneous usage of data and voice could also have a negative impact on Verizon’s offer.

However, new users are advised caution before entering into a 2-year contract since a new iPhone from Apple is likely to be launched soon; so some may also choose to wait for the newer version; and also presently wait to see how the service factor is affected on both networks by the introduction of this phone. A new iPhone will always have better features and may come packaged with an attractive offer too.

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