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No big LTE splash for Verizon at CES this year

Anyone expecting Verizon to unveil Stage 2 of its LTE network deployment

LAS VEGAS -- Anyone expecting Verizon to unveil Stage 2 of its LTE network deployment at the Consumer Electronics Show this year came away disappointed.

Last year at this time, Verizon was fresh off launching its LTE network commercially in nearly 40 markets across the U.S., and the carrier showed off 10 different LTE devices that would run on its LTE network, including the Samsung Galaxy Tab and Motorola Xoom tablets and the LG Revolution smartphone. This year, the company did have some high-profile smartphones to announce, but most of these were sequels to previous models such as the Motorola Droid 4 and the Droid Razr Maxx. The carrier also announced that it wants all of its future devices to be LTE-compatible.

RELATED: Four cities getting Sprint LTE in the first half of 2012 

But as far as additions and improvements to Verizon's LTE network itself, there was scant news. Verizon Wireless Enterprise Sales Director Mike Wojcik said this week that the company had yet to set any dates for when it would starting selling devices equipped with Voice over LTE (VoLTE) technology and instead suggested that users who wanted to talk over the carrier's LTE network should use a third-party application such as Skype. The carrier first started testing out VoLTE on its network last year, although the company has largely been quiet on when the technology will be ready for use.

Wojcik also said that the carrier didn't have any updates for when it planned to test out LTE Advanced, the next generation of LTE technology that is expected to deliver data at average speeds up to 100Mbps. Instead, he reiterated Verizon's plans to have its entire current 3G EV-DO Rev. A network upgraded to LTE by the end of 2013.

LTE Advanced gained final approval for use from major handset manufacturers last winter at the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) conference in Taiwan. Both Ericsson and Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo conducted separate trials of LTE Advanced technology last year that achieved peak speeds of just under 1Gbps.

Verizon became the first American carrier to commercially deploy the first generation of LTE technology in 2010 when it announced rollouts that covered roughly one-third of the American population. Wojcik said that Verizon has currently deployed LTE in 190 markets in the U.S. covering 200 million points of presence (PoPs). AT&T has also been steadily expanding its own LTE network throughout the United States, as the carrier this month announced LTE services were available in New York, San Francisco and other major markets. Sprint, meanwhile, plans to have its LTE network up and running in four major U.S. markets by midyear.

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