SIOUX CITY -- The wait is nearly over for legions of Siouxland Verizon Wireless customers.
Last month, Verizon made the long-awaited announcement that it would start selling a version of the iPhone 4, giving U.S. buyers of Apple's ubiquitous smart phone a choice of mobile carriers for the first time.
AT&T Wireless, which also serves Siouxland, has been the exclusive provider of the iPhone since its debut in 2007.
For months, rumors swirled of the iPhone's imminent arrival at Verizon, the nation's largest wireless provider, as well as the dominant mobile carrier in metro Sioux City.
For some time, people have called or stopped by Verizon's store at Southern Hills Mall to get updates about the iPhone, store manager LeeRoy Gomez said.
"Those die-hard Apple fans were just waiting and waiting and waiting," Gomez said. "People are very excited because it's finally a reality for the iPhone to come to Verizon."
Planning to rush out and buy a Verizon iPhone, or are you at you least thinking about it? Here are five key things to know.
Starting Thursday, existing Verizon customers, on a first-come, first-serve basis, can pre-order the iPhone online at www.verizonwireless.com
Sales to the general public are set to begin on Feb. 10 online and at Verizon corporate stores and Apple stores, said Verizon spokeswoman Karen Smith.
In Sioux City, there are Verizon corporate stores at Southern Hills Mall and at Sunnybrook Plaza. A corporate Verizon store also is located in Norfolk, Neb. The closest Apple store is in Omaha.
Verizon has not yet said when it will begin selling the phone through its network of authorized dealers.
Verizon has not said how many iPhones it plans to stock in each store. The huge pent-up demand the company forecasts has the potential to quickly deplete limited supplies, however.
The New Jersey-based carrier says it doesn't have a good idea of how many iPhones it might sell, in part because of uncertainty with supplies. Apple Inc. said last week that it would have sold more iPhones in the last quarter if it had been able to keep up with demand.
With a new two-year contract, the Verizon iPhone 4 runs $199 for a 16 gigabyte model and $299 for double the storage. Otherwise, you must pay the full retail price for the handset. Verizon has not yet released that price.
Verizon voice plans start at about $40 per month, and text messaging plans at about $5 per month. Like other carriers, Verizon requires a data plan for smart phones at contract prices.
Last week, Verizon announced it would offer a $30 unlimited data plan for the iPhone for a limited time only. If you prefer all-you-can-eat Internet usage, act fast because the carrier said it eventually will revert to its usual tiered data pricing structure.
To avoid a slowdown caused by higher data traffic from the iPhone, Verizon is rolling out a 4G network that will offer higher-speed download rates.
The network started in 38 of the largest uurban markets, with nationwide coverage expected to be complete in two years.
Verizon's iPhone 4 is designed for the carrier's 3G network. Some U.S. customers may decide to wait for the release of the 4G version of the device. But that's less of an issue in Sioux City, where the 4G network will be slower coming than in larger markets.
The Verizon and AT&T models of the iPhone 4 are substantially identical, most of the same features. AT&T customers, however, can not simply keep their iPhone if they switch to Verizon's service.
The main reason is the difference in networks. AT&T uses what's known as a GSM, or Global System for Mobile network, which supports simultaneous voice and data so it's possible to talk on the phone while also downloading an email, for example. Verizon uses what's known as a CDMA, or Code Division Multiple Access network.
The cost of a AT&T and Verizon iPhone handset, with a two-year contract, are equal.
If you switch to Verizon, AT&T will not let you out of your contract without an early termination fee. If you bought your AT&T iPhone after June 1, 2010, for instance, you'd pay a fee of $325, minus $10 for each month you completed on the contract.
AT&T offers new customers a tiered data plan system, offering 2 gigabytes of downloads for $25 per month. Many older AT&T subscribers were grandfathered into their unlimited data plans, however.