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Verizon to add LTE service to 26 more markets Thursday

Activations coincide with sale of first Droid Bionic phones for LTE

Verizon Wireless will launch its faster 4G LTE network in 26 more cities Thursday, while expanding LTE service in San Francisco, Indianapolis and Cleveland.

With the launches Thursday, Verizon will have rolled out LTE to 143 markets since starting the program in late 2010, Verizon said.

The new markets include Daytona, Fla., Santa Barbara, Calif., and cities in the country's mid-section from North Dakota to Texas.

The activations coincide with Verizon's rollout of the the new Droid Bionicsmartphone , which went on sale Sept. 8 for $300 with a two-year contract.

The dual-core 1GHz Bionic from Motorola is one of 11 LTE-ready devices that Verizon sells. It comes with a 4.3-in. display and can be paired with a $300 LapDock with a monitor and keyboard.

Other Verizon LTE smartphones are the LG Revolution , the Samsung Droid Charge and the HTC ThunderBolt . The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 can also be purchased with LTE.

LTE is considered about 10 times faster than the existing AT&T 3G GSM network. Verizon advertises the average data rate with LTE as 5Mbps to 12 Mbps for downloads and 2Mbps to 5 Mbps for uplaods.

Verizon on Aug. 22 gave advance warning that the 26 cities would start to receive LTE service Sept. 15, shortly after announcing it had reached half of the U.S. population with LTE. In August, Verizon also had confirmed the expansion of LTE in Cleveland, but today officially added expansions in San Francisco and Indianapolis.

On the list of cities receiving LTE service are: Fort Smith and Jonesboro, Ark.; San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara, Calif.; Daytona, Fla.; Bloomington, Champaign/Urbana, Rockford and Springfield, Ill.; the Quad Cities, Ill./Iowa; Iowa City, Iowa; Shreveport, La.; Kalamazoo and Saginaw, Mich.; Reno, Nev.; Las Cruces, N.M.; Fargo, N.D.; Canton, Lima and Mansfield, Ohio; Dyersburg, Tenn.; the Tri-Cities, Tenn./Va.; and Austin, Beaumont/Port Arthur, Wichita Falls and El Paso, Texas.

Rival AT&T is also rolling out faster LTE service in addition to faster HSPA+ service, and expects to launch LTE in 15 markets by year's end.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is [email protected] .

Read more about wireless networking in Computerworld's Wireless Networking Topic Center.

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