Citing a "trusted Verizon employee," TechCrunch reported today that Big Red has imposed a staff vacation blackout from September 21 to 30. The source didn't reveal the reason for the blackout or to which employees it might apply, but an iPhone 5 release is a likely possibility. CNET has reached out to Verizon for comment, and we'll update this update this story with additional information.
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A couple of points suggest that such a schedule will pan out. The first is that we've seen vacation blackouts with previous iPhone launches, both from carriers and Apple itself. iPhone launches always have meant long lines, so stores would need enough staff to handle the crowds.
Also, September 21 is nine days after the handset's rumored September 12 launch (that's also when preorders would start). Except for the first iPhone, Apple typically has let just over a week slip between the time a device was announced and the time it went on sale. Remember that Apple unveiled the iPhone 4S on October 4 and then released it the next week on the 14.
No doubt that iPhone 5 rumors will continue to pile up over the next few weeks. And once Apple issues an official event invitation -- possibly the week following Labor Day -- CNET will have full coverage.