Verizon CTO: We're working through LTE smartphone issues

Tony Melone, Verizon's chief technology officer, said Monday that its 4G Long Term Evolution smartphones are on track to be launched in the first half and that the company is working through the issues of launching devices on new technology.

Tony Melone, Verizon's chief technology officer, said Monday that its 4G Long Term Evolution smartphones are on track to be launched in the first half and that the company is working through the issues of launching devices on new technology.

Speaking at Credit Suisse's Convergence conference, Melone didn't exactly say that LTE smarpthones are imminent. There have been numerous reports indicating that the HTC Thunderbolt was about to launch. Each date---the latest one March 4---has passed. Verizon Wireless has even run "Coming Soon" Thunderbolt ads on TV.

The problem: We don't know how soon these LTE devices will land. It's unclear whether Verizon is working through technology or pricing issues.

Melone was asked why the LTE smartphones are taking longer than some observers expected.

Here's what Melone said:

I guess our expectations change, but we had said first half of this year at CES, quite frankly, we think that exceeded people's expectations. A year ago, people didn't believe that there would be LTE smartphones in 2011. First half of the year is what we promised, first half of the year is still on track. So we don't believe there are any new or surprising issues. I think what we're facing is what you would expect, and that is a new technology, you are working through issues. And we anticipated that, and we are pleased at how we are working through issues. And as I said, you are going to see LTE smartphones on the network as promised, before the first half -- before the second half of the year, by the end of the second quarter.

Melone was then asked whether battery life was an issue. Given that you have to buy an aftermarket battery for the 3G HTC Incredible to survive it wouldn't be a surprise if the 4G HTC Thunderbolt gobbled up power too.

I would say all the issues are being worked. I'm not sure I would say there are any key issues. Again, battery life has always been a topic of folks, no different than it was with 3G. The OEMs and ourselves, between the network and the device, we'll optimize it and provide a battery experience that we believe will be acceptable to consumers.

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