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Rumor: Windows Phone heading to AT&T's LTE 4G

As rumors of the next wave of Microsoft's Windows Phone strategy started to percolate, some tangible information also appeared, courtesy of Microsoft watcher Paul Thurrott.

Says the editor of Supersite for Windows:

Three LTE-based Windows Phone handsets — the Nokia ACE, HTC Radiant, and Samsung Mendel — will ship on AT&T Wireless before the middle of 2012. The ACE is due March 18, 2012. 

That is some incredibly specific information, though he doesn't provide specs. He also can't explain how this fits with an allegedly leaked plan for Microsoft to divide its Windows Phone OS into a higher-tier performance-based build and another for a more affordable line of phones.

(Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.)

I have reached out to Microsoft's Windows Phone division as well as AT&T, but both declined to comment on the topic. The thing is, not only is Thurrott's information plausible, but it provides another element the Windows Phone platform could use to get competitive.

Apple can afford to duck 4G networking for its iPhone line until fall 2012 because its customers would be exceptionally turned off by poor battery life and hinky connections. Android users don't mind as much, and many choose industry-leading performance no matter the costs. Windows Phone has yet to attract either of these customer types, despite its "best of both worlds" strategy. Combining a safe, user-friendly experience, a la iOS, with some ambitious hardware that runs on the fastest U.S. networks, a la Android, makes sense.

Guess we'll have to wait until the Consumer Electronics Show in the second week of January (where both Microsoft and AT&T will be making presentations) to get the full scoop. According to Thurrott, that's when this plan will be formally unveiled.

Catch up with Wilson on Twitter at @wjrothman, or on Google+. And join our conversation on Facebook.