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Monday, October 11, 2010, 06:00 am PT (09:00 am ET)

Verizon iPhone may be among first CDMA handsets to offer concurrent data and voice

Forthcoming enhancements to the CDMA wireless standard could allow Apple to be among the first handset makers to deploy phones on the wireless networks of Sprint and Verizon that would be capable of simultaneous voice and data transmissions like those operating on AT&T's GSM network.

Add to that persistent rumors that Apple will choose for its next iPhone revision a hybrid baseband controller from CDMA proprietor Qualcomm capable of handling both CDMA and GSM transmissions, and it appears more than likely that 2011 will enable the iPhone maker expand its offerings to CDMA network operators while maintaining its mantra of shipping one phone for the entire world (rather than separate GSM and CDMA devices).

In a recent discussion with the Wall Street Journal, CDMA Development Group spokesperson Brad Shewmake told the paper that a solution that will allow CDMA networks to carry voice and data simultaneously will become commercially available in the first half of next year — roughly the same time Apple is expected to introduce the first iPhones capable of running on CDMA networks.

Such advances could prove critical for Apple, assuming it hopes to promote the same user experience for iPhones running on CDMA networks as it does for those currently on the market. The Cupertino-based company has hyped in its television commercials, for instance, that AT&T iPhone users can hold a call with a friend while simultaneously surfing the web or transmitting directions or contact information over MMS.

Those same multitasking capabilities aren't currently available to Sprint and Verizon customers due to a decision made several years ago by engineers developing the CDMA standard, in which they chose to split voice and data transmissions into separate signals that cannot run concurrently.

In recent days, both the Wall Street Journal and New York Times have citied 'people familiar' with Apple's plans in saying that the company is gearing up to begin mass production of a CDMA-capable iPhone that would hit the market sometime in early 2011.