Verizon Wireless says ahead of target on high-speed network

NEW YORK, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Verizon Wireless said it isabout two months ahead of schedule in its network upgrade as itwill have high-speed wireless service in 400 markets by Oct. 18,ahead of its year-end target for this milestone.

Since late 2010, Verizon Wireless, a venture of VerizonCommunications and Vodafone Group Plc , has beenupgrading its network with a high-speed wireless technologyknown as Long Term Evolution (LTE).

Nicola Palmer, its chief technical officer, said on Tuesdaythat about 35 percent of the company's data traffic wastransmitted over the LTE network by the end of September andthat it would not be long before the majority of its trafficruns on the new network.

Verizon Wireless, like its rivals AT&T Inc , and SprintNextel , is spending billions of dollars on upgrading itsnetwork to support booming demand for services like web surfingand video on smartphones like the Apple Inc iPhone.

Market leader Verizon Wireless started its upgrade wellahead if its smaller rivals. AT&T started its upgrade in 2011and expects to have its LTE service in 100 markets by the end ofthis year.

(Reporting By Sinead Carew; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

((sinead.carew@thomsonreuters.com)(+ 1 646 2236186))