Now, I understand this may be a very niche subject for our dear readership, but as many of you may remember, I'm a Verizon customer. That's why this morning's news about Verizon testing its Long-Term Evolution 3GPP (LTE) service in various parts of the U.S. has me excited.
Yes, while it's amazing that Verizon is getting 60Mbps downloads using LTE in Columbus, Minneapolis, and northern New Jersey, what's exciting to me is the fact that LTE plays nicely with GSM. If you could use a GSM phone on the Verizon network -- I think you can see where I'm going with this -- you might be able to use an iPhone with Verizon service.
While it's true that Apple and AT&T have an exclusivity agreement with each other, Verizon and Apple have previously used two completely separate kinds of technology (CDMA versus GSM, respectively) -- preventing any kind of interoperability. With Verizon at least speaking the same language as iPhone handsets, the possibility of keeping my carrier and having my dream handset comes closer.
In theory, at least; it isn't as easy as flipping as switch. If it works anything like, say, the procedure for using your iPhone with T-Mobile here in the U.S., it requires unlocking the phone with QuickPwn or yellowsn0w. Apple has recently suggested that it considers jailbreaking iPhones to be a violation of DMCA. Interpreted broadly, that may include unlocking software, too.
Add to that some SIM cards that don't work with unlocking software, like some from T-Mobile. There's nothing suggesting that Verizon's new LTE SIM cards will work right out of the box. Even if they are, advanced features like Visual Voicemail won't be available, but that's something I can live without.
For me personally, I wouldn't mind either an iPhone or a Palm Pre. Maybe it's just a waiting game to see whose exclusivity agreement expires first, rather than trying to hack something together.
Then again, maybe I shouldn't get my hopes up. We've still got another year to wait before Verizon rolls out LTE service to most of the country.
Update: Commenters Andrew and Shane made a good point that I failed to grasp when I wrote this: Verizon's LTE implementation will not necessarily mean that GSM phones will work on Verizon's LTE network. LTE works like this: If you have an LTE chipset in your phone, awesome. If you don't, your phone will fall back to the network's prior 3G technology. In Verizon's case, that's still CDMA, which the iPhone doesn't support. Now, if Apple were to build in LTE support into their next round of iPhones (in anticipation of AT&T's adoption of the standard in 2011) there might be a chance this will still work, but that's a lot of ifs. Thanks, guys!
*Verizon is currently in the process of acquiring AOL, Engadget's parent company. However, Engadget maintains full editorial control, and Verizon will have to pry it from our cold, dead hands.