iPhone Exclusivity Ends In Canada, Too. Is AT&T Starting To Sweat?


AT&T used to be seated at a rather exclusive table as just one of the select telecoms to offer Apple's iPhone, but that table is quickly starting to fill up.

Two Canadian telecoms confirmed Tuesday that they will begin carrying Apple's iPhone next month, breaking the stranglehold that Roger Communications had held in Canada for more than a year. Bell Canada and Telus have both reached agreements to sell Apple's iPhone to customers on their networks.

Bell and Telus previously were unable to offer the iPhone because both telecoms operated with CDMA technology instead of the HSPA and GSM standards that Apple designed its smartphone to use. But the two nascent iPhone carriers joined together to install an HSPA overlay on their network, Reuters reports.

The Apple iPhone 3G and iPhone 3G S will be available from both providers starting in November.

News of the end of Roger Communications' iPhone exclusivity in Canada comes on the heels of news that O2 will no longer be the sole carrier of the smartphone in the U.K. Orange, the mobile unit of France's Telecom SA, will begin selling the iPhone at the end of this year to British customers.

O2 had previously enjoyed two years of being the exclusive carrier of the iPhone in the U.K.

American customers are undoubtedly watching these developments closely as customer satisfaction with AT&T hasn't exactly been sterling. Complaints about the telecom's network occur regularly around the blogosphere. AT&T came under fire when the iPhone 3G S was rolled out in June with MMS functionality that was not supported by AT&T.

AT&T claimed that MMS functionality would be available by the end of the summer and then promptly missed its own deadline because it was worried that the added activity might crash its network.

However, AT&T did eventually recently deliver MMS functionality to iPhone users.

AT&T must have known that Apple would be adding the much-asked-for MMS service at the launch of the iPhone 3GS. The fact that the telecom did not adequately prepare for a new feature that customers had been vocal about wanting prompted calls that Apple should ditch AT&T for Verizon.

Now with Apple setting a precedent for opting out of exclusive deals with telecoms, AT&T might be starting to sweat. The ball appears to be firmly in Verizon's court. The company already plans to run its next-generation data network on LTE, which is the GSM Association's 4G protocol. The key for cracking iPhone exclusivity in the U.S. might just depend on how quickly Verizon gets a GSM network -- or GSM network functionality -- up and running.