Verizon and AT&T's LTE Implementations Won't Be Compatible

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PCMag reports that Verizon and AT&T's upcoming LTE ("4G") networks will be incompatible with each other:

Thinking of unlocking a Verizon Wireless LTE phone for use on AT&T's network, or vice versa? Think again. Verizon Wireless confirmed today that its LTE phones will not "be compatible on other LTE networks in the U.S." because "the phones will be on different frequencies," according to Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Raney.

LTE is the next generation data transfer technology beyond 3G and is frequently labeled 4G.

It turns out that AT&T and Verizon will be using different frequencies for their LTE implementations which will make it more difficult for manufacturers to support both networks. Of course, it's possible to support multiple networks in a single device, but it does require additional consideration in communication parts and antenna design.

Apple presently offers two separate iPhone models to support Verizon's CDMA and AT&T's GSM networks, but Apple is expected to consolidate support into a single device with the iPhone 5. Meanwhile, rumors point to Apple holding off on supporting LTE until at least the 2012 iPhone revision.

Top Rated Comments

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120 months ago
The reason they're on different frequencies is because that's how the FCC allocated the spectrum blocks. Also Verizon and AT&T each handle way too much traffic to share frequencies. This is no different than GSM operating on different frequencies. Phones for years have had quad band GSM radios, I'm sure that companies are already working up multiple-band LTE radios.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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120 months ago
They both use parts of the 700 MHz band. There's no real challenge to make a radio that covers all blocks of this band. If a device manufacturer, such as Apple, wants to make a universal phone for Verizon and ATT, it could be done.

Problem is that the carriers have no incentive to encourage this behavior. Devices that are specific to narrow blocks of frequency are good for no one but the greedy carriers.

Note that ATT also uses AWS band (1700/2100 MHz) for some of it's LTE deployment. But, the argument above still applies: world-mode phones have been around for awhile.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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120 months ago
They should probably come to Europe to see how it is done properly across more than 40 countries. One phone only for all networks across Europe. The whole verizon - AT&T thing doesn't make sense.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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120 months ago
Well that's a shame. :( Was looking forward to a standard for once.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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120 months ago

This was known way back when they had the 700 MHz spectrum auction. Shouldn't surprise anyone.

Also, remember that the qualcomm radio inside the verizon iphone 4 is penta-band GSM along with being CDMA. They can just as easily add two LTE bands for their forthcoming 28nm LTE chips.

The real problem will be China's largest carrier (name escapes me) who have a proprietary LTE implementation.


* Yes, this has been assumed for a while, the news is that it's confirmed

* The Chinese company you are thinking of is China Mobile. Note, they are pursuing TD-LTE, but it is not proprietary in any way, it's a companion standard to FD-LTE.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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120 months ago
Wouldn't service degrade for everyone if all phones were connected at the same frequency?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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