) --


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is preparing to name Lowell McAdam as the No. 2 executive of the company to replace Denny Strigl, who announced he will leave at year's end, according to people familiar with the plan.

McAdam, who has been the chief of Verizon Wireless for two years, will follow the route Strigl took to become heir apparent to CEO Ivan Seidenberg. Seidenberg, however, isn't looking for a replacement anytime soon, say sources.

The move signifies the importance of the wireless business to Verizon and the confidence the company has in the bold upgrade plan to spend a fortune on LTE 4G-technology in the coming years. The upgrade is a year ahead of rival


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and is expected to start in a handful of cities this year, with most markets ready next year.

Unlike his predecessor, who rejected


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onerous demands in exchange for iPhone exclusivity, McAdam has shown that he's more tuned in to the importance of mobile phones among consumers.

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Lowell McAdam, Verizon's Next No.2.



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was pushing regulators to draw up open network requirements as a condition to 4G wireless licenses, McAdam created a lab where Verizon could run network compatibility tests for these new next generation devices.

McAdam also stepped into the limelight briefly in May when he helped submarine


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Pre sales by announcing that Verizon would have the Pre in six months. Acting on that news presumably, would-be Pre buyers could hold off for awhile instead of changing carriers.

McAdam is expected to be named the next Verizon COO in December and possibly share duties with Strigl briefly as part of the transition.


Written by Scott Moritz in New York