So we already knew Verizon was looking to push LTE out the door and to about 20 to 30 markets in the second half of 2010, but Tech Crunch's got it on good word that the company's doing everything in its power to get the service ready to go in a number of areas in time for Q1 2010. That's interesting in and of itself, but together with this morning's whispers of Apple's tablet coming early next year and past talk of an Apple / VZW partnership, and the tale gets exponentially more intriguing. As TC suggests, a tablet lacking voice service on the LTE network wouldn't violate AT&T's not-at-all permanent exclusivity. Its source said there was one LTE device, not a wireless card, that this early launch was being "specifically geared towards," but even if so, that could apply to any number of other non-Apple gadgets (from Nokia, perhaps?). Of course, much of this is rumor built on rumor, so no matter how well these pieces might seem to fall in place -- or how potentially awesome the idea might seem -- there's a large grain of salt you should be taking with you.
*Verizon is currently in the process of acquiring AOL, Engadget's parent company. However, Engadget maintains full editorial control, and Verizon will have to pry it from our cold, dead hands.