Verizon Wireless says ahead of target on high-speed network

NEW YORK, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Verizon Wireless said it is about two months ahead of schedule in its network upgrade as it will 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 Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group Plc , has been upgrading its network with a high-speed wireless technology known as Long Term Evolution (LTE).

Nicola Palmer, its chief technical officer, said on Tuesday that about 35 percent of the company's data traffic was transmitted over the LTE network by the end of September and that it would not be long before the majority of its traffic runs on the new network.

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

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

(Reporting By Sinead Carew; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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