ZTE readies US smartphone drive

ZTE said it planned to make a major smartphone push in the US market in 2009, including possibly partnering with Verizon Wireless on a dual-mode CDMA/LTE handset.

The Chinese vendor and handset maker said that it will focus primarily on smartphones and on phones with Qwerty keyboards, according to George Sun, chief executive of ZTE USA.

ZTE has previously said it hopes to become one of the world's three largest handset vendors in the next five years, and a strong push into the US market would definitely help it achieve that goal. Sun hinted that ZTE is in talks to forge partnerships with Verizon, AT&T Mobility and Sprint Nextel.

Sun also said that ZTE's partnership with Verizon could include a next-generation 3G/4G dual-mode phone. "In the US, there is strong demand for a [3G] CDMA and [4G] LTE device," Sun said in an interview with Forbes.com. "It's highly likely these products will be announced this year."

Verizon has indicated it will deploy its LTE network in 2009 and have a major commercial roll out in 2010.

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