By and large, Verizon hasn't flinched once in its march to LTE -- the proof is obviously going to be in the pudding, but leading up to the first commercial launches, they're talking as confidently as they ever have. Take last weeks Network World interview with the company's CTO Tony Melone, for example, where he's once again reiterated the carrier's intention to bring 25-30 markets live commercially this year and achieve roughly a complete overlay of its 3G network in 2013. That's nothing new or particularly interesting, but Melone's choice of language is encouraging, saying that they're "ahead of where [they] thought [they'd] be as far as site readiness goes," going on to report that the 25-30 market goal for 2010 is "looking better each day, not worse each day." That's bold, but he got a little less bold when talking about LTE voice: "The question for us will be whether our footprint will be sufficient at that point to provide customers with a good experience for voice over LTE, or whether we'll be better off offering 3G coverage for voice and 4G for data." The hesitation has us believing that an initial round of dual-mode handsets is basically a forgone conclusion, but at least we'll have the modems up and running in the meantime.

*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.

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