Verizon iPhone: How Many AT&T Subscribers Will Defect?

Now that Verizon Wireless is getting Apple s iPhone 4, will AT&T Wireless subscribers defect in droves to the No. 1 wireless carrier?

At least one analyst doesnt think so.

There is not going to be this bum rush to Verizon,” said IDC analyst Will Stofega.

Wireless subscribers are typically locked into two-year contracts, Stofega said, and AT&T Wireless customers under contract who defect to Verizon Wireless would have to pay early termination fees plus shell out money for a new iPhone.

But Hudson Square Research analyst Todd Rethemeier predicts AT&T will lose 3.5 million high-value contract customers this year, Apple Insider reported. Meanwhile, Barclays Capital estimates Verizon Wireless could sell 3 million more iPhones (9 million) this year than the six million AT&T Wireless is expected to sell, according to the Wall Street Journal.

A joint venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone, Verizon Wireless is the biggest wireless subscriber in the United States with 93.2 million customers at the end of the third quarter. 

AT&T Wireless trails Verizon Wireless by about 400,000 subscribers.

For more than three years, AT&T Wireless held exclusive U.S. rights to sell Apples iPhone. That is no longer the case.

Verizon Wireless said Tuesday the iPhone 4 will be available on its network beginning February 10, and certain customers will be given the opportunity to preorder the device online on February 3.

Apple and Verizon have a multiyear but nonexclusive contract.

AT&Ts iPhone users have faced problems with their connections, such as dropped calls and bad data connections, in urban areas, including New York and San Francisco. AT&T reported that only a small fraction of their subscribers was responsible for most of the congestion on its network, IDC’s Stofega said.

AT&T recently eliminated its unlimited data plans.

Stofega said some defections could help to relieve the load on AT&Ts network.

Last week, AT&T announced a new price of $49.00 for the third-generation iPhone, the 3G S.

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