We just spent a tick talking with Verizon Wireless
' Senior Vice President and Chief Technical Officer Tony Melone (shown speaking) after the company's LTE roundtable here at CTIA
, and while we've heard
a lot through the grapevine
recently, we wanted to set a few things straight for ourselves. For starters, VZW affirmed that data-centric devices would be splashing down on its commercial LTE network first, possibly as early as the end of this year. When we asked specifically what kinds of devices he meant, he stated that "aircards, USB data sticks and MiFi
-type devices" would be first out of the chunnel, with smartphones being "about a quarter behind." Naturally, we asked why there would be a delay, and he stated that getting a smartphone onto a new network is more difficult than a simple data-only product; there are obvious voice-related issues to work through that aren't present when you're only sucking down torrents, and it'll take some time before full-on phones join the fray. He assured us the earlier data-only device launches wouldn't be "a public trial," and he noted that a conservative estimate as to when we'd see LTE phones on Verizon would be "the first half of 2011." Though, he did confess that folks would likely be pushing for earlier ship dates, and we may see a few phones drop closer to January than July if all the stars align.
*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.