If you believe Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg's version of events, his company's wireless division wasn't even in the running for the iPhone years ago when Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) was first shopping the device around to carriers. Other reports tell a different story, but either way, the fact that Verizon had to wait nearly four years to offer its customers the iPhone had its advantages and disadvantages. On the down side, it really gave a customer boost to its biggest rival, AT&T (NYSE: T). On the upside, though, the competition did motivate Verizon to invest in a strong competitor to Apple's platform, Android, which it's helped become a major force in mobile.
It also got to sit back and watch as the iPhone's popularity and AT&T's response to the pressures placed on its network turned into a nightmare. The volume of complaints about spotty or just-not-there AT&T cellular service reached huge proportions, and pretty soon people were practically begging Verizon to carry the iPhone just so they could get a call through.
Now that day has come -- Verizon has started taking preorders, and devices will arrive on the 10th. But Verizon has learned a thing or two from watching AT&T make a mess of itself. Just as preorders were coming in, the company announced a few small changes it was making to its network's data system.
First, it's going to make a few tweaks to the way it handles files, which could result in a small change in the way videos look when they're streamed to Verizon devices. This applies to all data users, iPhone or otherwise.
Secondly, it's going to start throttling the data hogs. If you're among the 5 percent of Verizon's heaviest data users, expect to see slower data transfers on your phone.
If you're a Net neutrality booster, the word "throttling" might have just given you flashbacks to a few years ago when Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSK) was caught throttling heavy BitTorrent users. But remember that Comcast did emerge from that case without too many cuts or bruises, and at least here Verizon's being upfront about it, rather than secretly doing it like Comcast did. And perhaps Verizon just knows it probably can get away with it. The most recent set of guidelines the FCC has come up with allow for reasonable discrimination of Web traffic, whatever that means, and they allow wireless carriers to get away with a lot more than wired service providers.