Nokia and Verizon readying a secret 4G device?

Word on the wireless beat this week is that Nokia is developing an exclusive touch-screen device for Verizon's new 4G network.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
2 min read

Rumor has it that Nokia is working on a new touch-screen device for Verizon Wireless's new 4G wireless network set to go live in 2010.

TheStreet.com reported this week that the two companies are working together to create a touch-screen device that will operate on Verizon's soon-to-be-built superfast wireless network. Verizon Wireless, which is jointly owned by European carrier Vodafone and Verizon Communications, announced last month at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that it will test its new 4G network that uses a technology called Long Term Evolution, or LTE, this year and will begin aggressive rollouts in 2010.

The Street.com has cited unnamed sources who say the deal between Nokia and Verizon is exclusive. But a Nokia spokesman denied the company has entered into an exclusive deal with Verizon. Still, he didn't deny that the companies are working together.

"It is well documented and publicly known that Verizon intends to deploy an LTE network throughout the USA during the next five years and that Nokia has certainly endorsed their decision," he said in an e-mail. "While we have not entered into any exclusive 4G touch-screen device development as is being reported, we will continue to follow and pursue developments as a normal course of business."

Verizon declined to comment for the story.

Nokia has recently been touting LTE over the competing 4G standard WiMax. At a conference in Texas this week, a Nokia executive said the company plans to have LTE devices ready in 2010, according to the GigaOm blog.

If Nokia were to create a device exclusively for the Verizon network it could help both companies gain ground on Apple and AT&T. Apple's popular iPhone is sold exclusively in the U.S. for AT&T networks. The popularity of the iPhone has hurt Nokia's marketshare in the smartphone category. What's more, Nokia has also had little presence in the U.S. market for past few years, so a major partnership to push a new mobile device in the U.S. could help the company regain ground at the high end of the market.

And speaking of its lackluster presence in the U.S. market, Nokia recently experienced a hiccup here when it had to halt sales of its newly released Nokia 5800 XpressMusic. Nokia stopped selling the device shortly after it went on sale last week at its flagship stores in New York and Chicago when consumers complained of problems connecting to the 3G network. Nokia now says the problem, which only affected devices in North America, has been fixed and the phone should be back on store shelves shortly.

"We have concluded this was an isolated situation related to a configuration change in the North American variant," the company said in a statement. "We have now adjusted the configuration and will resume sales shortly. Those few customers of the 5800 who experience a 3G signal issue are advised to contact Nokia Customer Care. Our sincere apologies for the inconvenience."