Rumor Mill: Apple will skip LTE with next iPhone

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) will not release an iPhone model next year that works on LTE networks, according to TechCrunch, a move that would push such a device until 2012 at the earliest.

According to the blog, which cited unnamed sources, Apple will instead produce an iPhone for release by the middle of next year that supports both GSM and CDMA standards. Recent reports have indicated that Apple is building a CDMA version of the iPhone that Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) will launch early next year. Verizon has declined to comment on the reports, and an Apple spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

While a blow to Apple aficionados hoping for a 4G iPhone, the decision--if true--makes a great deal of sense, from Apple's perspective. Though LTE networks are being launched this year, it will take operators time to build them out. Verizon plans to launch LTE this year in 38 cities and more than 60 airports, from Seattle to Denver to Boston, covering 110 million POPs. The carrier will expand that figure to 200 million POPs by 2012 and more than 285 million by 2013. AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), currently the exclusive provider of the iPhone, will not launch commercial LTE service until mid-2011, and will cover between 70 million and 75 million POPs by the end of next year.

Verizon Communication President and COO Lowell McAdam said in May that the carrier may launch up to five LTE handsets by the middle of next year, and that those supplying the LTE phones may include Motorola (NYSE:MOT), HTC, LG and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM).

Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) currently supports two phones that run on its 3G CDMA network and Clearwire's (NASDAQ:CLWR) mobile WiMAX network--the HTC Evo and Samsung Epic. 

For more:
- see this TechCrunch post

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