Let the LTE/4G race begin! We've reported that AT&T is planning to have LTE service by 2011, but it looks like Verizon may get there first. Verizon Wireless Chief Technical Officer Dick Lynch, in a presentation at Mobile World Congress, announced that Verizon is committed to equipping two U.S. cities with Long Term Evolution (LTE) data networks by the end of 2009. Characterized as "pre-commercial deployments," the LTE networks would be a precursor to full commercial deployment slated for 2010 that would include 25-30 cities. It's anybody's guess which two U.S. cities will be the test sites, but LTE tests have been performed by Verizon in several cities including Minneapolis, Columbus (Ohio), and New Jersey. 

No word if AT&T has adjusted its projections in response to Verizon's announcement. If Verizon is successful in deploying the 4G service later this year, it may give them an advantage over AT&T. Then again, the timetable for devices capable of handling 4G is a lot more sketchy than the timetable for having the service available. Some projections don't see the 4G devices hitting the market until 2011. If this is the case, AT&T's timeline mirrors device development. Verizon may be leading a race for a data network very few, if any, consumers will be able to use.

[Read: ARS Technica]