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iphone 4AT&T has profited nicely to date from being the only carrier to offer the iPhone. So it’s bound to be nervous now that Verizon is getting ready to announce an iPhone on its own network. And yesterday the claws came out.

In reference to Verizon’s CDMA network, AT&T’s Larry Solomon said in a statement to Business Insider: “The iPhone is built for speed, but that’s not what you get with a CDMA phone. I’m not sure iPhone users are ready for life in the slow lane.”

Theoretically, Solomon is correct, as AT&T’s 3G network offers higher peak speeds than Verizon’s. But that doesn’t mean much when you can’t get a network connection at all, which users have frequently complained about with AT&T’s network. The 140,000-plus attendees of the Consumer Electronics Show ran into trouble with AT&T connectivity last week, and residents of big cities like New York and San Francisco deal with AT&T connectivity problems every day.

Indeed, many iPhone users are already living life in the slow lane, which would explain why the hype surrounding the fabled Verizon iPhone has reached exorbitant levels.

AT&T has every reason to feel threatened given that Verizon will be offering unlimited data plans with its iPhone, something AT&T no longer does for new customers.

This surely won’t be the last we hear from AT&T on the Verizon iPhone. The company last week announced that it would offer the 8-gigabyte iPhone 3GS for a mere $49 — an attempt to deflect some attention away from Verizon’s news by having the cheapest iPhone offering in America.

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