Verizon Wireless(s vz)(s vod) is upping its already considerable commitment to LTE, revealing to the Dow Jones that it will complete its core LTE rollout this year and reiterating its commitment to selling only 4G smartphones from here on out.
Verizon is expanding its 2012 target to 260 million pops covered, which is only 10 million more than it previously projected, but it will leave the operator only 30 million people short of completely overlaying its CDMA network with 4G as well as bring the mobile broadband service to 400 cities, large and small. Verizon has stated it eventually plans to offer LTE everywhere it has 3G services. To bolster that commitment, Verizon revealed 7 new small LTE markets scheduled for launch on Thursday and that it has expanded coverage in 17 existing markets.
Speaking to Dow Jones, CTO David Small also backed up commitments that a Verizon marketing exec made at CES to introduce only new smartphones with LTE connectivity going forward; older 3G-only models may still be an option (think iPhone 4S), but new devices must have LTE. There are few remaining doubts that the forthcoming iPhone(s aapl) will have LTE connectivity as Apple is supporting the technology in the new iPad, but Verizon probably just dispelled those that remain. Even Verizon wouldn’t be so bold as to take such a stance if it weren’t positive the iPhone would include LTE radios.
Here are the new markets launching on Thursday: Dothan and Enterprise, Ala.; Naples, Fla.; Greenville, N.C.; Altus and Durant, Okla.; and Longview/Marshall, Texas. In addition, Verizon is expanding its LTE network in Washington, D.C.; Elkhart, Ind.; Baltimore, Md.; Columbus, Miss.; Northern N.J.; Wilmington, N.C.; Duncan, Okla.; Allentown/Bethlehem, Harrisburg, Philadelphia and Scranton/Wilkes Barre, Pa.; Hilton Head, S.C.; Cleveland, Tenn.; Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas; and Kenosha, Madison and Milwaukee, Wis.