Verizon Wireless announced today that its customers will be able to purchase Apple's iPhone 4 starting next month. The announcement was long expected, and while the iPhone 4 is a nearly year-old design that comes laden with the most hardware defects of any recent Apple device, this change is expected to have long-term repercussions in the wireless industry, perhaps especially at AT&T, which previously had exclusive distribution rights to the iPhone.

Verizon customers will be able to preorder the iPhone 4 starting February 3, and anyone can purchase the device at Verizon starting February 10. Pricing is the same as on AT&T: $199.99 for the 16GB model and $299.99 for the 32GB model with a new two-year agreement.

The only appreciable difference between the iPhone 4 on Verizon and that on AT&T is that the Verizon version has two antennas, one for CDMA-type networks like Verizon's and one for the CDMA-type networks that are used in most of the world. Thus the Verizon iPhone 4 is what Verizon calls a "world phone" since it can work overseas too.

Beyond that, Verizon's version of the iPhone 4 includes no major new advances and will not run on the wireless carrier's next generation LTE network. Instead, it will run on Verizon's aging 3G network, and not the newer 4G network it is now marketing.  And that means no simultaneous voice and data, as on AT&T. That said, Verizon's 3G network has proven to be more reliable and available than AT&T's, while offering better performance.

Verizon is also going to great lengths to explain that it will not suffer from the same network congestion problems that have plagued iPhone users on AT&T since the first iPhone appeared in 2007. The company claims that Apple has been testing a CDMA version of the iPhone since 2008 and that it "has more than enough capacity" to meet demand.

Well, we're about to find out if that's true.