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Next iPhone won’t be LTE? AT&T’s first LTE phone won’t arrive until late 2011

There has been a long-time rumor about the next-generation iPhone being an LTE device, but AT&T’s latest announcement might have finally squashed that rumor. Pete Ritcher, senior VP AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets, talked about AT&T’s plan for rolling out its 4G LTE network on Wednesday. Ritcher stated that the first LTE handset will come out closer to the end of the year.

Even though the LTE network should be launched any day now in five select markets, there won’t be a phone coming out soon with LTE connectivity. The very first devices will be USB data sticks, and there is also a rumored LTE tablet coming soon. Ritcher says AT&T is taking its time with handsets on purpose. The company claims it wants battery life to improve on LTE handsets before releasing one. The biggest knock currently on Verizon’s LTE phones is their battery life, so this explanation makes sense.

Ritcher went on to say that by the end of the year AT&T plans to have LTE active in 15 markets. With an initial launch of just five markets, that is a pretty big jump in just a couple of months. AT&T will focus on core markets first, and roll out the service on a market-by-market basis.

As we teased at the start of this article, the most (or least) exciting bit about this announcement may be what Ritcher didn’t bring up. With the launch of the next generation of iPhone rumored to be either in September or October, it looks as though that the next iPhone won’t be an LTE device, or at least it won’t be on AT&T. This might not be a surprise for some people, but it was still nice to hold out hope.