US LTE phones incompatible across carriers’ networks

Added by on July 16, 2011


US based Verizon Wireless earlier this week confirmed its 4G LTE handsets will not be compatible with other US 4G LTE networks.

US-based cellular subscribers have long been accustomed to GSM technologies where subscribers can use phones from different carriers simply by moving their SIM card to another phone, as long as the phones are unlocked. Yet it is thought that Verizon may be designing its LTE phones to its own network’s wireless frequency, essentially locking out all other carriers phones. Verizon’s network uses a band of frequencies between 746 and 787 Mhz whereas AT&T uses a band of frequencies ranging between 704 and 746 Mhz.

It’s likely that incompatibilities between US carriers’ handsets on various 4G LTE networks will exist for long into the future. International roaming is also likely to be a problem for US-based subscribers because the ITU, the International Telecommunication Union – a regulatory body, approved 12 different bands of wireless frequencies for use with 4G LTE which may make international roaming impossible. Current mobile phone antenna technologies cannot cope with handling a variety of different bands.

Globally, wireless carriers are heavily investing in network infrastructure in an attempt to keep up with growing consumer demand: global wireless network infrastructure spending is expected to top $43 billion this year.

Verizon continues its nationwide expansion of its 4G LTE network and now offers high speed wireless, reliable voice to over 110m people in 74 markets. Sprint, the first carrier to offer 4G service in the US, provides 4G service to 71 markets in 28 states and is currently in the middle of a network expansion effort that could be worth $20 billion.

4G LTE, or Long Term Evolution, is the 4th generation of a wireless broadband standard that supersedes 3G technologies like GSM/UMTS. The 4G specification defines a maximum data rate of 100 Mbps with 50 Mbps upload speed, and a reduction of round-trip network latency to 10 msec. 4G LTE is currently available in several other countries.