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Well that didn’t last long. Verizon started taking pre-orders for its upcoming iPhone today and, due to overwhelming demand, had to stop taking pre-orders for the phone by early evening.

In fact, demand was so heavy that the carrier’s web site crashed temporarily in the afternoon. Some Verizon employees said they were surprised at how quickly and how hard the servers were hit. It makes you wonder if Verizon is ready for an onslaught of new and existing customers demanding the iPhone.

Verizon apparently wants to make sure its existing customers get first crack at the new phone. Existing customers got a chance to pre-order the Verizon iPhone today, while the rest of the world was told it would have to wait until February 10 to get a crack at it. But with pre-orders maxing out so quickly, it’s likely Verizon’s management will come up with a new strategy over the next day or two to appease existing customers, according to VentureBeat’s Christopher Peri (@perivision), who spoke informally with Verizon representatives today.

Verizon announced it would begin carrying the iPhone just last month, igniting a frenzy of interest from Verizon Wireless customers and current iPhone users dissatisfied with AT&T’s network performance. 

Today’s events, especially the site being down for three hours, could hold a clue for what Verizon is in for by taking on a cult-like device like the iPhone. Hopefully this is not a harbinger of things to come once all the phones get on the network. While Verizon has said its network is fully prepared for an onslaught of new iPhone users, it said today it would throttle download and upload speeds for the top 5 percent of its users using the most data — the “bandwidth hogs” on its network.

Still, Verizon has to deal with a slew of powerful phones running Google’s Android mobile operating system as well, weighing down its wireless network. Verizon is also preparing to launch a number of devices on its 4G wireless network in the next few months.

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