Verizon launching up to five LTE phones by mid-2011

Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) may launch up to five LTE phones by next May. Speaking at the Reuters Global Technology Summit, Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam said those supplying the LTE phones may include Motorola (NASDAQ:MOT), HTC, LG and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM). "I'd say all the major manufacturers we're talking to today are making the transition to LTE," McAdam said.

Previously, Verizon had said it was planning to launch its first LTE handset by May. Verizon plans to launch 25-30 commercial LTE markets in the fourth quarter, covering 100 million POPs.

The Verizon chief also shed some more light on the the company's planned Android tablet, which was disclosed last week. He said companies in the running to provide tablets for Verizon include Motorola, LG and Samsung. "There's no reason we couldn't have an iPad," he said.

McAdam said that most of these devices will go on sale in the fourth quarter, and that the devices will initially run on Verizon's CDMA network, but will be able to be upgraded to LTE. Additionally, he said the company will demonstrate its first LTE tablets and phones at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show in January.

The race to offer 4G devices is growing. Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) will launch its first 3G/4G smartphone, the HTC Evo 4G, June 4. The phone, which is capable of running on Clearwire's (NASDAQ:CLWR) mobile WiMAX network, will be the first WIMAX smartphone. Clearwire plans to launch two handsets, one from HTC and one from Samsung, by year-end.

McAdam also touched on Verizon's recent announcement that it is in talks with rural wireless carriers to license its 700 MHz LTE spectrum in an attempt to build out the network faster. He said he expects to finalize the deals within the next 30 days, and that the deals could extend coverage to between 6 million and 10 million people by the middle of 2011, depending on how quickly the carriers act.

For more:
- see this Reuters article

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