Some people think, rightfully perhaps, that a fifth-generation iPhone will only run on fourth-generation cellular networks that are based on 3G HSPA+ radio technology rather than the latest LTE technology. Don’t kill the messenger, folks – this one comes from the mouth of  Hudson Square Research‘s Todd Rethemeier, as relayed by Barron’s Tiernan Ray:

The next version of the iPhone – he suggests it’s going to be an iPhone 5, rather than recent discussion of an interim model, an “iPhone 4S” – will have 4G wireless only for the AT&T version, not for the one shipped to Verizon.

And what does an eagle-eyed analyst do on such news? Cut Verizon from Hold to Sell and upgrade AT&T from Hold to Buy. Man, I should have been an analyst…

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On a brighter note, supporting AT&T’s 3G HSPA+ network – which their marketing pitches as 4G and gets away with it – would theoretically enable downloads speeds of 5-10 Mbps on Apple’s next handset, which translates to 0.5-1 megabyte per second. Verizon’s CDMA network can’t compete – their downlink is 1Mbps, or about 100 kilobytes per second. Whether or not the next iPhone supports fourth-generation networks using Long-Term Evolution (LTE) radio technology remains to be seen. Conventional wisdom implies Apple would want to wait until the end of 2012, when major US carriers will have completed commercial deployments of LTE networks, meaning iPhone 6 will be an LTE device.

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