Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks are now just months away from going live in the USA, so let's run down what you can expect in the way of this proto-4G technology in the coming year.

MetroPCS
MetroPCS Inc. (NYSE: PCS) has previously claimed that it will have "the first LTE wireless network featuring smartphones" in the US. The operator plans to launch in the "second half of this year." It hopes to have a smartphone that supports both CDMA and LTE ready for the network. So far, the operator has only said for sure that it will be launching in Las Vegas, although other unspecified markets are on the roadmap.

Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless reiterated on its second-quarter earnings call Friday that it is on track to launch what will be the largest initial deployment of LTE in the US sometime in the fourth quarter. The deployment is expected to cover some 25 to 30 cities with average data download speeds of between 5 and 12 Mbit/s by the end of 2010. In fact, Engadget is suggesting that November 15 might now actually be the launch date. (See CTIA 2010: Verizon LTE Gets Friendly.)

The operator is planning to launch with data cards and LTE modems. Smartphones, however, should be available by the first half of 2011. (See CTIA 2010: The LTE Smartphone Scramble.)

LTE might also move away from unlimited data plans for Verizon: "We have indicated in the past, as we move to an LTE world and LTE pricing, we will probably look very hard at tiered pricing, and that continues to be our thinking right now," CFO Joe Killian said on Friday's call. (See Verizon Likes Its Droids.)

AT&T
AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) CFO Rick Lindner said this week that the operator is readying LTE test markets now. "We plan to begin our trials of LTE in the next few months and will start commercial service in 2011," he said on the operator's second-quarter call this week. Very little is yet known about what markets AT&T will initially launch in or what kind of devices it plans to offer.

LightSquared

The dark horse of early LTE providers, it emerged this week that LightSquared , which is a Harbinger Capital Partners LP venture, wants to launch LTE markets in the second half of next year. The operation is little different from other carriers, as it plans to use a combination of satellite and terrestrial broadband spectrum to launch wholesale services to sell to other operators. LightSquared will launch trial LTE networks in the first half of next year in Denver, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Baltimore. (See Harbinger Hatches LTE Challenger in US.)

Original Source: Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile at http://www.lightreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=194847&f_src=lightreading_gnews