Verizon expands LTE coverage target for 2012 to 260M POPs

Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) increased its 2012 LTE coverage target by 10 million POPs to 260 million people covered, and plans to push customers onto the network by putting LTE into all of the smartphones it sells this year.

Verizon plans to significantly expand its LTE coverage map.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Verizon Wireless CTO David Small said that by the end of the year Verizon expects to have LTE coverage in 400 markets, up from roughly 200 markets and 200 million POPs currently. Small said that by 2013 Alaska will be the only U.S. state in which Verizon will not have LTE coverage.

Small also reiterated a previously announced strategy by Verizon to only launch smartphones that can take advantage of its LTE network, which, given Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) tendency to launch a new iPhone every year, seems to bode well for an LTE iPhone. (Verizon, along with AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), will launch an LTE-enabled iPad starting Friday.) Currently, only 5 percent of Verizon's subscriber base has devices on its LTE network.

AT&T, meanwhile, currently covers roughly 74 million POPs with LTE. AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel confirmed to FierceWireless that the company intends to double its LTE coverage by year-end to around 150 million POPs. AT&T has been advertising its network as "America's largest 4G network"--a claim also touted by Verizon and T-Mobile USA--because it counts HSPA+ as "4G," and notes that its faster network technologies cover around 250 million POPs total. AT&T recently noted it will launch LTE in 11 more markets, though the company did not give precise dates for each of its planned market launches.

For, more:
- see this MarketWatch article
- see this WSJ blog post (sub. req.)

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