large_5460222333Verizon is the king of fast cellular networks in America, or so it says. And it’s hard to argue with the company’s numbers.

Verizon reported its fourth-quarter 2012 earnings today, revealing that 63 percent of its smartphone sales were Apple iPhones. But chief financial officer Fran Shammo made a special point of stressing the carrier’s fast 4G LTE network.

“Customer adoption of 4G LTE is really gaining momentum,” Shammo said on the company’s earnings call. “Our total 4G LTE devices sales reached 7.3 million [units] … up 60 percent from last quarter.”

Almost all of the Android phones Verizon sold were 4G LTE capable, and 65 percent of the entire 9.8 million smartphones sold were 4G LTE. (The non-Android numbers are down slight due to sales of Apple’s older iPhone models, which do not support LTE.)

Verizon devices/4G LTE coverage

Above: Verizon devices/4G LTE coverage

Image Credit: Verizon

But it’s not just the devices, of course. It’s the network that matters.

“Almost half of our data traffic is on the 4G LTE network,” Shammo said, adding that Verizon believes its 4G network is five times more efficient than 3G. “We are by far the market leader, with 476 markets covering 89% of the US population.”

The company will no long be adding any capacity to its 3G network; instead it is continuing to expand 4G coverage. Verizon expects to have full coverage of the U.S. by mid-year 2013.

Chief competitor AT&T’s LTE ambitions had a slow start and have generally not compared favorably with Verizon. However, late last year AT&T did manage to acquire some additional spectrum that should help it expand LTE more rapidly.

photo credit: Robert Scoble via photopin cc