NEW YORK – Verizon Wireless, the largest U.S. mobile-phone company, will start selling Apple’s iPhone next year, ending AT&T’s exclusive hold on the smartphone in the United States, two people familiar with the plans said Tuesday.

The device will be available to customers in January, according to the people, who declined to be named because the information isn’t public. Natalie Kerris, an Apple spokeswoman, and Peter Thonis, a Verizon Communications spokesman, declined to comment.

The iPhone, which has been the sole domain of rival AT&T in the U.S. since June 2007, will give Verizon a boost in its competition for smartphone customers, UBS analyst John Hodulik said. Verizon customers, who numbered 92.8 million at the end of the first quarter, may buy 3 million iPhones a quarter, he estimates.

“Apple is going to dramatically increase the number of devices it sells in the U.S. when exclusivity at AT&T ends,” said Hodulik, who is based in New York and rates Verizon shares “neutral.” “It’s hard to ignore the quality issues that AT&T has faced.”

Verizon Wireless, which is building a high-speed fourth-generation network, plans to unveil a number of devices that will run on the new technology in January at the Consumer Electronics Show, CEO Lowell McAdam has said.