LTE handsets hitting Verizon next year

Verizon Wireless is on track with the rollout of its Long-Term Evolution 4G network and the largest U.S. carrier is set to have LTE handsets in mid-2011, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

Getting a 4G handset out next summer would reportedly be about six months ahead of schedule and there’s no word on what manufacturer will have the first device. This is cool stuff because a 4G handset could potentially get 5 to 12 Mbps on the go, which could open the door to services like HD streaming videos, high-quality video chatting, or VoIP calling. Big Red is currently deploying LTE across the country and it plans to have up to 30 markets covered by the end of the year.

Of course, this may start the iPhone-to-Verizon rumors again because LTE is looking like it will be the standard for 4G around the world. If Apple wants to come to Verizon it will, but this doesn’t make things any easier technologically because Verizon’s 4G handsets will have to be able to fall back on Big Red’s 3G. Verizon has aggressive LTE deployment schedules but it’s really tough to cover the entire United States – we still don’t have 100% 3G coverage.

Rival Sprint is backing WiMax for its 4G efforts and it is already delivering 3 to 6 Mbps on the go. It is offering USB modems and 4G/3G mobile hotspots like the  Overdrive and a WiMax handset is expected to launch this summer. We’ve already seen some WiMax handsets from HTC and Sprint is reportedly talking with Samsung about a 4G handset. It’s going to take a while but we’ll soon have some insane broadband at our fingertips. I’m excited.

[Via The Wall Street Journal (subscription required)]

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