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Verizon (NYSE:VZ), the biggest wireless service provider in the US, has been loosely linked to Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system in the past, but Tuesday the companies ratcheted up the stakes with word of a strategic partnership.

In a joint announcement (release), timed to coincide with the CTIA Wireless show, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said his company and Google plan to "co-develop a family of Android based devices … with innovative applications from both companies."

Talks between the two giants began almost eighteen months ago and the first few devices to come out of the deal will be announced in a “few weeks.”

Both Verizon and Google are pledging to commit “substantial resources” to the project. They are also pledging openness.

Details are scarce but from the rumor mill, some suspect the first handsets slapped with the Google Verizon partnership label will be the Motorola (MOT) Sholes and the HTC Hero (a newer HTC model is also a possibility. The Hero was first revealed in June).