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Verizon Wireless was the first of the big four U.S. carriers to deploy a 4G LTE network, and it doesn’t look like it’s slowing down anytime soon.

The carrier expects to double its LTE market coverage from 200 to at least 400 across the U.S. this year, Verizon CTO David Small tells the Wall Street Journal. Verizon also plans to double-down on 4G by only introducing smartphones this year using its faster network — a potential sign that Apple’s next iPhone will also sport LTE.

Rumors of an LTE iPhone have been around since last year, but immature LTE chipsets likely kept Apple from including 4G (not to mention the complete redesign it would have required). But with the new iPad sporting LTE, there’s little doubt that Apple will also include 4G in the iPhone 5 (or whatever the new iPhone is called).

Verizon expects to cover 260 million Americans with LTE by the end of the year, up from a previous estimate of 250 million. That figure shows just how far ahead Verizon is in the LTE game compared to AT&T, which is planning to cover 150 million Americans by the end of the year.

Come 2013, Alaska will be the only state without Verizon’s LTE 4G service, Small said.

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