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Verizon iPhone may cost more, but likely to include unlimited data plan

iPhone on VerizonIn a matter of hours, Verizon is expected to announce that it has landed the iPhone, bringing to an end one of the most hyped stories in the history of smartphones. In between now and then, there remains speculation about just how much the device will cost and what sort of monthly plans Verizon will offer.

Concerning the former question, it looks like Verizon’s iPhone may cost a bit more than AT&T’s model. A report in the blog Apple Insider suggests that the Verizon iPhone will sell for about $20 to $30 more than it has in the past. Why’s that? Well, the CDMA radio components that will power Verizon’s iPhone are more costly than the UMTS chips that run the lineup of AT&T iPhones. Verizon, naturally, will pass along the extra expense to its customers.

But if Verizon’s CDMA network can handle the influx of iPhone costumers, it’s likely that gripes about the extra costs will be kept to a minimum. AT&T, after all, was recently  cited by Consumer Reports as the nation’s worst wireless carrier due to poor voice and data coverage. Verizon, on the other hand, was ranked at the top of the U.S. big four wireless carriers.

There’s also questions remaining about what sort of contract terms Verizon will offer as part of its subsidized iPhone deal — data plans specifically. AT&T originally offered the iPhone with an unlimited data plan, but has since chosen to offer only capped data plans. A Wall Street Journal report suggests that Verizon will offer its existing unlimited data plan to new iPhone customers — a move that could attract more than a few data-hungry existing AT&T customers. However, if Verizon’s iPhone is a big a hit as it’s expected to be, it may not be able to afford to let users enjoy an “all you can eat buffet” approach to data beyond a year or two from now.

Both of these questions could be addressed tomorrow, but the bigger questions about the impact of the Verizon iPhone are likely to remain unanswered for awhile. Specifically, how many users will AT&T lose to Verizon and how Verizon’s infrastructure will perform under the increased burden brought on by potentially millions of new customers.