The first smartphone to operate on Verizon Wireless's LTE network is set for a launch this Thursday. Online cell phone retailer Wirefly announced that it will start shipping HTC's Thunderbolt on March 17, with pre-orders actually starting in a few hours. The device was first expected to land around mid-February, but for unknown reasons the Thunderbolt's launch was delayed by over a month. Some rumors suggest that battery life had something to do with it.

The phone sports a large 4.3-inch touchscreen, an 8MP camera with HD video capture on the back plus a front-facing camera, Android 2.2 with HTC's Sense software, and a 1GHz processor. It also includes a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot feature, DLNA wireless media streaming, a kickstand for media viewing, FM radio, and 8GB of internal memory alongside the included 32GB microSD card – that's 40GB out of the box. For some reason the Thunderbolt will not have Skype video chat available at launch, but thanks to LTE connectivity it will have the ability to handle simultaneous voice and data.

Pre-orders will start at 3 a.m. EST (midnight Pacific) and while price was not mentioned it is expected to sell for $250 with a two-year contract. Other LTE smartphones coming to Verizon later this year include the LG Revolution, the Droid Bionic 4G and the Samsung 4G LTE. All have 4.3-inch screens and run Google's Android.