SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Verizon Wireless plans to launch a new high-speed wireless service more quickly than expected with a network covering a population of 110 million people by year-end, the company said on Wednesday.
The company next January will show off six new devices, such as smartphones and tablets, that will work on the network, said Verizon Communications Inc Chief Operating Officer Lowell McAdam.
The top U.S. mobile provider said it will launch the service by the end of the year and that it will boost its mobile Web surfing speeds as much ten-fold in 38 U.S. markets.
Verizon previously said the network, based on a fourth-generation (4G) technology known as Long Term Evolution (LTE), would be available in 30 markets covering 100 million people by the end of the year.
“We’ll reach more than one third of all Americans where they live and work ... the day that we flip the switch on this network,” McAdam told the audience during his keynote presentation at the CTIA wireless trade show in San Francisco.
Verizon Wireless, which is 45 percent owned by Vodafone Group Plc, could offer Apple’s iPhone on the network, McAdam said.
“I expect at some point in time our business interests are going to align and I think things like LTE are another great reason why (Apple) would want to have a device like that or a tablet on this kind of a network, so I fully expect it,” he told reporters.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that Verizon would begin selling a new iPhone in early 2011.
Verizon has not said how much it will spend on building the network besides the $9 billion it laid out to buy airwaves it expects to use for high-speed services.
Smaller rival Clearwire Corp has already started selling 4G in some markets and has also promised to cover a population of 120 million people by year end. Sprint Nextel Corp -- No. 3 U.S. mobile service and majority owner of Clearwire -- uses Clearwire’s network to sell 4G services.
AT&T Inc, the No. 2 U.S. mobile service, is expected to be more than a year behind Verizon in rolling out 4G services as it has promised to cover up to 75 million people with LTE by the end of 2011. In the meantime AT&T says it is beefing up data speeds in its third-generation network.
Reporting by Noel Randewich. Additional reporting by Sinead Carew in New York. Editing by Robert MacMillan
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