Verizon Exec Talks LTE Plans, Devices, V Cast Apps, & More

In a one-on-one meeting with Engadget, Verizon Wireless' Senior VP and CTO Tony Melone revealed some interesting details about the wireless carrier's plans for LTE and LTE-related devices. More specifically, Melone confirmed that ALL of its data-only LTE WWAN devices (such as aircards, MiFi-type products, and USB data sticks) will also support 3G. This is definitely good news for users, especially those who may find themselves traveling in and out of 4G data coverage areas. Considering some of today's WiMAX products don't offer the same versatility, this is a welcome announcement.

Although data-centric devices such as aircards, USB data sticks, and MiFi-type devices supporting LTE will be the first to launch on the carrier's network, Melone said Verizon would be interested in offering a smartphone with LTE capabilities that could double as a mobile hotspot. In terms of a timeframe, Melone indicated smartphones will be "about a quarter behind" data-centric devices. Melone explained the lag in rolling out a LTE-compatible smartphone is due to the added difficulties of getting a smartphone onto a new network. Conservatively speaking, it sounds like we can expect to see a LTE phone on Verizon's network in the first half of 2011.

As far as when LTE coverage will be available, Melone said the company's 4G network will be launching "in the not too distant future." When pressed for a more specific timeframe, he said Verizon would launch "25 to 30 networks this year, covering one third of America by the end of 2010." Looking further down the road, Verizon plans to have a footprint twice as large 15 months after the initial rollout. By the end of 2013, the wireless carrier's 4G map should be the same size or larger than its current 3G map.

Finally, during the Verizon Wireless' LTE forum at CTIA 2010, it was revealed that the V Cast Apps market will launch on March 29th. The BlackBerry Storm (and likely the Storm2) will be the first phones supported, with other RIM devices to come.