So, What Is Verizon’s LTE Launch Date?

8:30 AM -- LAS VEGAS -- International CTIA WIRELESS 2010 -- Wondering when exactly in 2010 Verizon Wireless will launch its initial Long Term Evolution (LTE) services? Well, let’s look at what we know so far…

  • Verizon has consistently said that it will launch 25 to 30 LTE markets by the end of 2010.
  • Friendly user trials will happen in the summertime. (See CTIA 2010: Verizon LTE Gets Friendly.)
  • CTO Tony Melone expects to launch the first LTE-capable handset on the network by the middle of 2011. Data cards and dongles will be available before that. (See Report: Verizon Plans LTE Phone by Mid-2011.)
  • Melone said at the Verizon press conference on Wednesday that there will be “a quarter maybe of difference in time” between the data-only cards and the first handset. I went and double-checked this with him after the presentation and he repeated it.
So where does that leave us?

Lets assume that Verizon launches the new network service with one or two data cards -- I mean, otherwise, what’s the point? This suggests that the earliest Verizon currently expects to launch service is sometime late in third quarter of the year, more likely the fourth quarter, since that would push handset launches into 2011 and hit Melone’s schedule.

Of course, that's not to say that Verizon can’t get a couple of markets up and running earlier. (Hello, Boston and Seattle!) The fact that the carrier is now putting its backhaul in place, however, suggests there is still a good amount of work to be done across the other markets.

A holiday season launch seems most sensible to maximize sales, if deployment work doesn’t fall behind schedule. A large assumption maybe, but if you can’t bet on a big "if" in Vegas, where can you?

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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