The Federal Communications Commission has just approved what appears to be the very first Long Term Evolution (LTE) handset. The Samsung manufactured device, known as SCH-r900, supports 1700MHz/1900MHz bands for both LTE and EV-DO connectivity and is set to debut soon on MetroPCS' network. Little else is known about the phone except that it has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities.

Samsung had previously announced the R900 earlier this year during CTIA as part of MetroPCS' LTE presentation. The flat-rate carrier said in March that it will launch LTE services in Las Vegas and other unnamed markets sometime in the second half of 2010, presumably ahead of Verizon's November LTE network launch. The so-called 4G technology is seen as a competitor of Sprint's WiMAX for data services and will initially see download speeds ranging from 5 to 12Mb/s.

In other 4G news, pictures of Verizon Wireless' first LTE USB modem began to surface yesterday. There isn't much to report other than the fact that it's developed by LG and already in testing. If anything, its polished looks suggest the device is nearly ready for release and probably will see the light of day before year's end. Unfortunately the same can't be said about Verizon's first LTE-based smartphones, which are expected to arrive sometime in 2011.