Verizon Wireless, the largest U.S. mobile-phone company, will start selling Apple Inc.'s iPhone in January, ending AT&T's exclusive hold on the smart phone in the United States, according to two people familiar with the plans.

The iPhone, which has been the sole U.S. domain of rival AT&T since June 2007, will give Verizon a boost in its competition for smart phone customers, said UBS AG analyst John Hodulik.

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"The fact is, Apple is going to dramatically increase the number of devices it sells in the U.S. when exclusivity at AT&T ends," he said. "It's hard to ignore the quality issues that AT&T has faced."

Natalie Kerris, an Apple spokeswoman, declined to comment, as did a Verizon Wireless spokesman.

Verizon Wireless is building a high-speed fourth-generation network and plans to unveil several devices that will run on the new technology in January, said chief executive Lowell McAdam.

Apple has sold more than 50 million iPhones since the phone's debut in 2007. The latest version, iPhone 4, sold more than 1.7 million units in the first three days after its Thursday debut, a record for the product.

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- Bloomberg News