NEW YORK — Comments from Verizon Communications Inc. CEO Ivan Seidenberg on Thursday left little room for the possibility of a Verizon version of the iPhone any time soon.
Speaking to investors at a Goldman Sachs conference, Seidenberg said nothing about an iPhone for the company's current network, but said he hopes Apple Inc. will come around and allow Verizon to sell the phone for a new network it is building. The "4G" network hasn't yet opened for service and won't be complete next year.
Reports regularly surface of an upcoming iPhone version for Verizon's network, but so far AT&T Inc. has kept its exclusive right to sell the phone in the U.S. Verizon Wireless, meanwhile, has been promoting phones from Motorola Inc. and HTC Corp. that run Google Inc.'s Android software as an alternative to the iPhone.
"We don't feel like we have an iPhone deficit. We would love to carry it when we get there, but we have to earn it," Seidenberg said.
"I think 4G will accelerate the process, and any other decisions Apple makes would be fine with us," he added. "Hopefully, at some point Apple will get with the program."
Verizon Wireless expects to fire up a network based on a "fourth-generation" wireless technology known as Long Term Evolution in 25 to 30 cities by the end of the year. It should have near-nationwide coverage by the end of 2012, Seidenberg said.
The network should allow for higher data speeds, but won't be ready for phone calls. This year, Verizon expects to sell data modems for the network, with phones coming next year. The first phones will probably use Verizon's older "3G" network for phone calls, since calling over 4G hasn't been standardized yet. That complicates the design of phones for the system.
Seidenberg confirmed that he expects to leave the CEO job no later than the end of next year, to be succeeded by newly appointed chief operating officer Lowell McAdam, who was head of Verizon Wireless.
Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of New York-based Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group PLC of Britain. It is the country's largest cell phone company, with 92.1 million subscribers. AT&T is close behind.
Verizon shares rose 11 cents to $32.50 in morning trading. AT&T shares rose 5 cents to $28.64.