Verizon Wireless: 4G LTE or bust in 2012

Verizon Wireless CTO says goal is to hit 400 markets this year, focus on LTE smartphones

A Verizon Wireless executive has told Dow Jones Newswires that the carrier plans a huge expansion of its 4G LTE wireless network this year and plans only to roll out 4G-capable phones.

Word of Verizon's plans to be in "at least 400 markets across the country" by year-end follows AT&T's announcement earlier this week that its LTE footprint will double by the end of the year to 56 markets and 150 million-plus points of presence. AT&T has practically been begging customers to upgrade from 2G wireless to 3G or 4G.

LTE SPECTRUM: How much do the big carriers have?

The Wall Street Journal/Dow Jones reported that Verizon Wireless CTO David Small said the carrier is aiming to lure 10 million additional Americans than previously expected to its 4G network. Verizon, which in January added five more markets to its LTE network, previously announced plans to cover 250 million Americans by year-end. The Journal reports that Verizon has drawn just 5% of its customers to its 4G network despite pouring billions of dollars into the roughly year-old network infrastructure.

Verizon's plan to offer only 4G phones this year is bold considering that LTE-enabled phones made up just 7% of the U.S. market, according to Q4 NPD Group numbers. It also indicates further that the much-anticipated Apple iPhone 5 will likely support 4G LTE.

Verizon has been out in front of AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile on LTE, though all hasn't been smooth. The carrier's network has suffered a number of high-profile outages that have angered customers. 

Bob Brown tracks network research in his Alpha Doggs blog and Facebook page, as well on Twitter and Google +.

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