AT&T's chief executive said Thursday that there will be a new edition of the iPhone available next year that will use 3G technology for faster data access.

At an event at the Churchill Club in Santa Clara, Calif. on Wednesday, AT&T Chief executive Randall Stephenson did not mention a specific date when the new iPhone would be released.

You'll have it next year, was all he offered.

Apple did not immediately respond for comment when contacted. However, Apple CEO Steve Jobs previously hinted in September that a 3G iPhone is likely while underlying technologies which are compatible with a fast network are becoming more practical.

The current iPhone has been in the line of fire over complaints from some users that of AT&T's EDGE network is sluggish, limitin users to browsing the Web at speeds comparable to dial-up Internet connections.

One factor preventing an earlier rollout of a 3G iPhone has been that the current generation of 3G chips drain battery power too quickly, according to Jobs.

AT&T is the exclusive carrier for the iPhone in the U.S. The device will connect to the Internet at much faster speeds than the current model, which sells for $399 and sold 1.4 million handsets through the end of September.