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Verizon 4G LTEThe cost of 4G LTE-enabled devices, including smartphones and tablets, will drop significantly in the second half of 2012, according to a Digitimes report.

In the quest to provide faster data speeds, mobile carriers in the U.S. and around the world are racing to build out 4G networks while manufacturers create more powerful devices with 4G functionality. Companies like Samsung, HTC and Motorola have built 4G-enabled smartphones and tablets, and more are still to come.

At the moment, prices are high when it comes to 4G LTE devices. Just this week, HTC and AT&T introduced a $700 LTE-enabled Android tablet called the Jetstream. Over on Verizon, the most expensive smartphones are LTE-enabled, including Samsung’s Droid Charge at $299 and HTC’s Thunderbolt at $249.

LTE parts are expensive, but the Digitimes report indicates that chip manufacturers are learning to better produce these parts at mass scale. The report says that several chipset vendors will begin mass production on single-mode LTE chips later this year and that Qualcomm is preparing production of its multi-mode LTE chips for the first half of next year. These shifts will translate to lower prices for consumers and higher adoption rates of 4G LTE technology.

LTE, or long-term evolution, is a technology that both Verizon and AT&T have decided to pursue in the U.S.. An LTE connection provides substantially faster Internet data speeds as compared to 3G speeds. Verizon has a clear lead with more than 70 metropolitan markets being served, while AT&T has promised five LTE markets before the end of the summer. Sprint right now offers 4G WiMAX devices but has also left the door open to LTE in the future.

We fully expect LTE to take off in a big way in the next year, especially if Apple climbs aboard with its next iPhone model. Of course, we don’t know if the iPhone 5 will have LTE or HSPA+ abilities, but Apple is generally good at keeping up with technologies like this on its mobile devices.

Do you plan to pick up an LTE-enabled smartphone the next time you buy?

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