On Wednesday, Verizon unveiled its list of the 38 U.S. cities that will be the first to get its 4G LTE service. Naturally, the next question is what devices will be able to use it?
None of the current Verizon smartphones or wireless modems have the LTE chips needed to take advantage of the 4G speed boost. So, that means customers will need all new gear in order to get on LTE.
When Verizon 4G actually launches in the coming months, Verizon plans to start by offering LTE dongles, modems, and mobile hotspots. However, Verizon president Lowell McAdam said that we can expect to hear about a lot more LTE devices at CES 2011 in Las Vegas when Verizon will be giving the keynote on the opening day of the convention. Although the keynote is being given by Verizon chairman Ivan Seidenberg, McAdam said on Wednesday that he and Google CEO Eric Schmidt will have some devices to show off.
McAdam elaborated that the new LTE-powered devices we'll see at CES will include smartphones, tablets, and machine-to-machine devices from "mainstream OEMs." He added that "the ecosystem has developed much quicker than we expected" and that Verizon's 4G push "has gotten the ecosystem fired up and ready to go."
We should certainly expect some Droid-branded 4G smartphones running Android, and from the sound of it, we may also hear about Android-powered tablets from vendors such as Motorola, Samsung, and HTC. As for the "machine-to-machine" (M2M) devices that McAdam mentioned, he was referring to wireless sensors and telemetry that can be used to automatically send data from things such as utility meters, parking meters, traffic lights, medical equipment, and much more.
One LTE device that looks like it will not be coming to Verizon at CES is the iPhone. Earlier on Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple was planning to begin mass production of a new iteration of the iPhone that would come to Verizon early in 2011.
However, McAdam denied the rumors — although he didn't completely close the door. He said, "I expect at some point in time our business interests will align. And, LTE is another great reason for a device like the iPhone or a tablet [such as the iPad]."
My interpretation of that statement is that McAdam thinks Apple needs Verizon's 4G network more than Verizon needs the iPhone. And, he would welcome the iPhone and iPad to the Verizon network — as long as Apple would play by Verizon's terms rather than the kind of deal it signed with AT&T.
Jason Hiner has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Jason Hiner is Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.