Right now, iPhone users must use AT&T Inc. because of a contract between the two companies. Some users have blamed AT&T for technical problems on their iPhones.
If Apple opens up its wildly popular gadget to other networks, it stands to gain a massive new pool of customers who hesitated to switch to the phone because of reservations about AT&T.
The Wall Street Journal reported on its Web site Monday that Apple plans to produce a new iPhone this year that can run on other networks. The Journal cited unnamed people who had been briefed on the issue. Apple declined to comment.
New handsets such as Apple Inc.'s iPhone may also help Verizon Wireless boost its subscriber and revenue growth, a Jefferies & Co. analyst said Tuesday.
In a client note, Jefferies analyst Jonathan Schildkraut reiterated a "Buy" on Verizon Communications Inc., which operates Verizon Wireless in a joint venture with Britain's Vodafone Group PLC.
Schildkraut said if Verizon could bring its cell phone selection in line with the competition — with the iPhone or other devices — it would free customers up to choose carriers based on network quality.
"We believe (Verizon) Wireless is currently viewed as the network leader," Schildkraut said.
Verizon shares rose 2.7 percent, or 83 cents to $31.28. Shares of AT&T slipped 1.4 percent, or 37 cents, to $26.14.
Along with subscriber growth, Schildkraut said "handset parity" could boost Verizon's average revenue per customer, or ARPU, on data plans that provide services such as Web browsing and e-mail.