We've been down this path countlesstimes, but rumors are once again heating up that Apple and Verizon are actively discussing the possibility of creating an iPhone to work on Big Red's airwaves, according to USA Today's infamous "people familiar with the situation." The juicy gossip claims that discussions kicked off a few months ago when Steve was still running the day-to-day show out in Cupertino, but that the conversation has continued in his absence -- and they'd like to get a product on the shelves next year, likely much to AT&T's chagrin. The article claims that this would be a CDMA product, but given that Verizon boss Ivan Seidenberg himself ruled out a CDMA iPhone and opened the door for an LTE one, we're inclined to believe that the carrier would like to see this product help inaugurate the first slivers of its commercial 4G network in 2010. Since AT&T (along with the rest of the world) is moving toward LTE, an LTE-powered iPhone is a forgone conclusion -- it's really just a question of when Apple will make it happen and whether Verizon will be able to seal the deal.
*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.