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Verizon Wireless Bringing First 4G Phones To Market In Mid-2011

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If you are holding out for a 4G phone for your next purchase, don’t bother. Verizon Wireless will not have its very first 4G handset until mid-2011.

While that’s about six months earlier than the company had said before, that’s still far enough away to burn through another contract, especially since the chance of you wanting the very first 4G phone is mighty slim. The time line was confirmed by Anthony Melone, Verizon’s CTO, who told the WSJ in an interview that the carrier could have a 4G phone three to six months after it launches the service. Verizon has committed itself to an aggressive LTE roll-out, which will launch in some markets by the end of the year.

Clearwire (NSDQ: CLWR), which is building another 4G network based on WiMax technology, will likely beat Verizon to the punch. It has said previously that it could support a phone as early as mid-2010. In that case, its partners could roll-out a phone too, which includes Sprint (NYSE: S) and its cable partners, Time Warner (NYSE: TWX), Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA) and Bright House.

Initially, both of these networks will first be used for connecting laptops and other data devices since they don’t have the traditional voice-calling capabilities. Both LTE or WiMax phones will have to have an additional chipset, so that consumers can make calls over 3G networks.