Verizon Speeds Up LTE Expansion

Verizon Wireless will redouble its Long Term Evolution (LTE) efforts in 2011 as it reveals that its first 4G smartphone -- the High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498) Thunderbolt -- was a best seller in the first quarter of 2010. (See Verizon Reports Q1.)

The carrier plans to cover more than 185 million potential subscribers with its LTE deployment by the end of the year. The network already offers consumers average download speeds of 5 Mbit/s to 12 Mbit/s over the air in many major U.S. cities.

"By the end of the year we plan to be in about 175 markets," Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) CFO Fran Shammo said in the first-quarter earnings call. Verizon had previously said that it expects to be in around 147 metropolitan markets by the end of the year. (See Verizon Sets More LTE Launches.)

One of the motivating factors may be the success of the operator's first 4G phone, the HTC Thunderbolt. The company sold 260,000 Thunderbolts in two weeks when it went on sale, with more than 500,000 4G devices, such as data cards, activated overall during the quarter.

Verizon sold 2.2 million Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone 4s for the two months it was available on the Verizon network during the first quarter. Rival AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) activated 3.6 million iPhones in the first quarter, 33 percent more than this time last year. (See AT&T's iPhone Growth Continues.)

Overall, Verizon added 1.8 million total new connections, including 906,000 retail customers on monthly contracts and 897,000 wholesale and other connections. The operator now has 88.4 million retail customers and 15.6 million wholesale and other connections in total, including machine-to-machine (M2M) links.

The influx of new smartphones onto the Verizon network has once again boosted its wireless data revenues. Data revenues for the quarter were US$5.5 billion, up $1 billion or 22.3 percent year-on-year, which represents 38.1 percent of all service revenues. Total wireless revenues were $16.9 billion, up 10.2 percent year-on-year.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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