Verizon has recently boasted it expected to offer LTE 12-18 months ahead of AT&T.
Does LTE have competitors?
Yes. There is a competing 4G standard called "WiMAX" that is supported in the U.S. by Sprint, which is working with Clearwire to create its 4G network. Sprint says its first 4G smartphone will be out before the middle of this year. The company also recently began offering a 3G/4G mobile hotspot.
Sprint's 4G network has been in operation since 2008 and covers about 30 million people in the U.S. Expansion planned this year would increase the coverage to 120 million potential users. Sprint CEO Dan Hesse has called 2010 "the year of 4G" at his company.
Sprint is claiming 3-6Mbps speeds for its WiMAX network.
Will you need a new handset?
Most likely, although many new 4G handsets will be compatible with the older 3G networks as well. It is hard to imagine any upgrading of current smartphones for the new networks, so users should expect to upgrade in order to get the higher speeds that 4G promises.
I've saved you the technical details, such as radio frequencies and modulation schemes, and hope to have answered the most immediate questions. If you have others, drop me an e-mail.