The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.NEW YORK ( Trefis) -- Verizon ( VZ) may have been the first to launch its 4G LTE network more than a year ago, but customers haven't taken to the new high-speed technology in meaningful numbers yet. Earlier, the company's CFO Fran Shammo had said that only about 5% of its total subscriber base use an LTE smartphone right now. In a bid to increase LTE adoption, Verizon is now planning to only introduce phones that support the high-speed network this year. Moreover, it has also decided to increase its target year-end LTE coverage to 260 million Americans from the earlier 250 million target. Verizon is currently well ahead of AT&T ( T) and Sprint ( S) in terms of LTE deployment with coverage in almost 200 markets across the U.S and plans to add another 200 by the year's end.
Verizon says that it plans to cover 400 markets across the U.S. with LTE by the end 2012, so widespread availability of LTE should not be a concern then. Mobile semiconductor leader, Qualcomm recently announced the availability of a 28 nm Snapdragon processor with integrated LTE capabilities that will ensure sleeker and cheaper handsets that do not consume huge amounts of power. Verizon is also slowly bringing down the prices of its LTE smartphones. The latest Droid 4 offering from Verizon is available for only $199. In addition, the wireless carrier is currently promoting an LTE data plan that offers twice the usual monthly data allotment for half the price. As for the outages, we see them as initial hiccups inherent in any early stage adoption of a nascent technology that will be overcome as customers increasingly use LTE. The launch of the iPhone 5 with LTE capabilities later this year will help further drive 4G adoption. Although the iPhone 5 may be available on competing LTE networks as well, Verizon's greater LTE coverage should help it attract more iPhone buyers. Higher LTE speeds will see subscribers increasingly using data-intensive applications on their smartphones. This will drive data revenues, thereby increasing ARPU levels for Verizon over the coming years. Click here to find out how a company's products impact its stock price at Trefis Like our charts? Embed them in your own posts using the Trefis Wordpress Plugin.