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Tuesday, May 22, 2007, 01:00 pm PT (04:00 pm ET)

No CDMA-compatible iPhone for at least 5 years - report

Being the exclusive U.S. provider for Apple's iPhone means that wireless carrier AT&T won't have to worry about a competing version of the device for rival cellular networks for at least half a decade.

That's the word from USA Today's Leslie Cauley, who appears to have confirmed that AT&T has exclusive U.S. distribution rights on the Apple handset for five years

As part of the deal, Apple is reportedly barred for that time from developing a version of the iPhone for CDMA wireless networks, such those operated by Verizon Wireless and Sprint.

Of course, the five-year embargo has been somewhat expected ever since Verizon vice president Jim Gerace began boasting over his company's decision not to bite at a similar five-year exclusive that would have made Verizon Wireless the iPhone's exclusive U.S. provider.

"We said no. We have nothing bad to say about the Apple iPhone," Gerace told USA Today back in January "We just couldn't reach a deal that was mutually beneficial."

The Verizon exec said his firm just could not come to terms on a variety of issues with the iPhone maker. Among them, Apple reportedly wanted a percentage of the monthly cellphone fees, a say over how and where iPhones could be sold, and control of the relationship with iPhone customers.

In speaking to the paper this week, AT&T Wireless chief executive Stan Sigman showed his own signs of swagger as he acknowledged the primary advantage in landing the iPhone exclusive — which is that customers who crave the device will be forced to take their business to his front door.

"I'm glad we have (the iPhone) in our bag," he said. "Others will try to match it, but for a period of time, they're going to be playing catch-up."