Verizon: 35% of data traffic now rides over LTE

Though only 12 percent of Verizon’s contract customers have an LTE device, that 12 percent is consuming vast quantities of data. Speaking at CTIA’s MobileCon in San Diego, Verizon Wireless(s vz)(s vod) CTO Nicola Palmer said that 35 percent of all of the carrier’s mobile data traffic now traverses the not-yet-2-year-old 4G network.

In a few months 4G traffic will increase to 50 percent of the total, Palmer said. Though she didn’t go into details on why they expect such a huge jump in such a short period, it’s easy to guess the reason. The iPhone 5 is the first iteration of the iconic Apple device to sport LTE radios.(s aapl) As Verizon sells millions of new iPhones leading up the holidays, Verizon will begin shifting the iPhone’s huge data load from its 3G CDMA networks to LTE.

Palmer also said that Verizon will hit its 2012 goals for coverage on Oct. 18, when it will launch its 400th market, Marquette, Mich. In 2013, Verizon will largely be filling in the gaps between cities and towns, and by the end of that year, Verizon’s LTE network will be everywhere its current 3G EV-DO network operates, Palmer said.

In 2013, Verizon will also begin deploying its second 4G network over the airwaves it just bought from its new cable partners. Palmer said Verizon has already started laying the groundwork for that launch, but the doubling in network capacity that would accompany the upgrade won’t begin until mid next year, she said.