Verizon: Look for LTE handset in mid-2011

A key Verizon Wireless executive said the carrier plans to debut an LTE handset three to six months after it commercially launches LTE service. However, Verizon's LTE gadgets likely will sport dual-mode chips so they are backward compatible to the carrier's 1xEVDO Rev. A network.

Verizon continues to divulge bits and pieces of information regarding its upcoming LTE launch; the carrier plans this year to introduce LTE in 25-30 markets, covering 100 million POPs. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Verizon Wireless CTO Anthony Melone said laptop data cards likely will represent the bulk of the carrier's initial LTE devices. And since it will years before Verizon rolls out LTE nationwide (the carrier has pegged 2013 as the date it will have deployed LTE across its 3G network), the data cards and devices will be backward compatible with 1xEVDO Rev. A so that customers can use them throughout Verizon's entire coverage area.

But the introduction of LTE speeds and applications will coincide with a pricing change--look for unlimited data plans to become a thing of the past. Melone said all-you-can-eat plans "is the big issue that has to change." Melone's comments echo those of Verizon CTO Richard Lynch, who said earlier this year the operator likely will charge customers based on how much bandwidth they use.

Verizon isn't the only carrier hinting at usage-based pricing. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has said that he thinks the wireless industry is going to adopt usage-based pricing models for mobile data. While he did not provide specific plans for how AT&T Mobility might implement such pricing structures, he said there is a steady move toward those models.

Melone will be discussing Verizon's LTE deployment, usage-based pricing, LTE devices and more March 23 at 11:05 a.m. at the FierceMarkets "Path to 4G" conference held in conjunction with the CTIA Wireless 2010 conference in Las Vegas. Melone will be sitting down with Editor in Chief Sue Marek for a fireside chat on the topic. Click here to see the agenda and register.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)

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