Verizon's first LTE smartphone an iPhone?

Carrier may already be shipping the device to its warehouses, source says

Verizon Wireless's first LTE smartphone will be Apple's iPhone, according to an anonymous source who told MacDaily News the device had been spotted at a company training session.

The report said the iPhone on the faster LTE network would appear just after Christmas because AT&T demanded to hold onto exclusive holiday sales of the iPhone in the U.S.

The after-Christmas sales of an LTE iPhone makes some sense, given Verizon's admission that it would announce LTE-capable phones at the Consumer Electronics Show in early January.

Most analysts have predicted that Verizon would not get an iPhone to sell from Apple until March or so, and they expected it would probably run only over the slower Verizon CDMA network .

The new LTE iPhone would be backwards compatible with CDMA, which runs about 10 times slower than LTE, the source told MacDailyNews. Part of the reason for that is because LTE access won't be nationwide on Verizon until at least late 2011. Verizon launched LTE in 38 U.S. markets on Dec. 5 , with access only on USB modems used with laptops.

According to the anonymous source, the new iPhone on LTE would be exclusive to Verizon, and would be marketed as such. The source said the device shown at a training session is "100% cooked" and already shipping in bulk to Verizon warehouses.

Industry observers, however, said putting an LTE-only version on sale would make little sense given the iPhone's current success on AT&T and elsewhere with slower network speeds.

Verizon would not comment on the report or its plans for LTE smartphones beyond reiterating what officials have said before -- that an LTE smartphone should appear by late February or so.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is .

Read more about smartphones in Computerworld's Smartphones Topic Center.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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