iPhone 4S Verizon LTE

Although LTE may not be available in some corners around the world yet, it’s certainly taken the US by storm. Three out of our four largest carriers have live LTE networks, and the fourth one, T-Mobile, will have one up shortly.

In fact, Verizon, who was first to market with LTE technology back in 2010, has its 4G network lit up in close to 500 markets. And the company says that it’s now seeing nearly 50 percent of its data load travel over that network…

FierceWireless got a chance to interview Verizon’s vice president of network engineering at CES this week, who says that almost 50% of the carrier’s data load now travels over its LTE network. The figure is up significantly from 35% last October.

“We are very pleased with the performance of the (LTE) network,” said Mike Haberman, vice president of network engineering for Verizon Wireless, in an interview with FierceWireless here at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show.

He also said the network’s reliability–the ability for customers to establish an LTE connection–is roughly the same as Verizon’s CDMA EV-DO network, though he declined to provide specific statistics.”

Furthermore, the report says that the carrier expects to have all of its data traffic travel over its LTE network as soon as in the next five years. That’s pretty crazy considering how new and sparse the technology still is in many parts of the world.

Haberman also noted that Verizon now covers 273.5 million people with LTE, or roughly 89% of its entire US footprint. For comparison, AT&T’s LTE network — which to be fair, has only been around for a year — only covers 150 million people.

Verizon’s Lowell McAdam revealed some other interesting LTE-related stats earlier this week. The CEO announced that 23% of the carrier’s subscribers were using an LTE handset at the end of last quarter, as were 85% of its new post-paid subscribers.

Verizon plans to have its LTE network finished as early as the middle of next year.