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With Verizon's announcement last week that it will be selling the Apple iPhone, one of the most common questions is, "Can I use my current AT&T iPhone on the Verizon network?"
Unfortunately, the answer is no. This isn't a matter of carrier exclusivity or a case of poor customer relations policies--it is because of the technology. Verizon's network uses CDMA and AT&T's network use GSM. While there are debates about which technology is "best," the carrier's maintenance and investment in enough towers is much more important than the underlying technology.
GSM networks are the dominant technology in most of the world, which is why some say that GSM networks are preferable for frequent travellers. GSM phones have a SIM card that can be swapped which can allow for switching between phones or provider networks (such as temporary ones when travelling overseas).
It depends on where you travel, as some countries do have CDMA networks. There are also so-called 'world phones' which have both CDMA tech and available SIM cards for use when switching markets.
If you want an iPhone and the Verizon network, you need to buy a new iPhone. The CDMA version is slightly different than the current GSM one designed for the AT&T network; one important difference might be the 4 antennas with the CDMA as compared to the three antennas of the GSM model.
The best news about the iPhone coming to Verizon is that it gives consumers choice. The most popular phone should be available on the most popular network. Many people have discount programs with a specific carrier through their workplace.
The recommendation of many tech journalists is to wait just a few months for the next iPhone. But Verizon is not going to have to do much promotion to be overrun with the pent-up demand for a Verizon iPhone.