Verizon: ‘iPhone 5’ Will Compete with AT&T for Global Coverage

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I noticed this story late last night, basically another ‘iPhone 5’ tease that’s even bigger news from where I sit than whatever newfangled whatsits Apple’s tucked under the hood: global Verizon iPhone support.

The tipster: my wife. She wants a phone she can take on business trips abroad (like the U.K., or more recently, the Middle East). But the phone has to be all things. It has to work across the pond, but also in her tiny northwest Iowa hometown. Actually out of town a couple miles to where her parents’ farmhouse sits, nestled behind a tower-blocking hill, flush with trees, cows, and a compost pit. Lest you think we’re asking the moon for cheese, Verizon’s had bumper voice and data coverage across the area for years, while—nothing against them otherwise—AT&T offers neither.

News that the next-gen Verizon iPhone will include global coverage comparable to AT&T’s should galvanize international travel wonks. Worldwide mobile support’s the dealmaker (or breaker) if you’re in the business of globetrotting.

That’s not all. At the Global Technology Summit where this news went down, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said the company would sell its upcoming iPhone-whatever-they-call-it, same time as AT&T. Yep: Buh-bye, timed vendor exclusives.

And if you’ve mused about family data packs along the lines of Verizon’s family voice plans, it sounds like Verizon’s planning to offer those, too. Assuming you don’t have kids with out-of-control BitTorrent habits or a predilection for mobile-streaming Netflix 24/7, an option to combine those pricey $30-a-month individual plans sounds golden.

Now for the bad news you already knew about. Verizon says it’ll eliminate all-you-can-eat flat-fee data plans this summer, swapping in, lo and behold, tiered ones. This should surprise no one. Verizon needs to keep its increasingly crowded data network supple. Every time I venture downtown, near a state university undoubtedly rife with students toting Verizon phones, my five-bar “3G” coverage chokes.

I blame the latest data phones, YouTube, and Lolcats.