Originally published: July 17, 2011
Last updated: July 17, 2011 - 9:57pm
Thinking of unlocking a Verizon Wireless LTE phone for use on AT&T's network, or vice versa? Think again. Verizon Wireless confirmed 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.
The new 4G LTE system used by Verizon, MetroPCS, and soon AT&T runs on SIM cards much like the ones for GSM networks, and GSM phone owners are used to being able to switch phones from network to network, as long as they're unlocked. But Verizon may be designing its phones to only run on Verizon's very specific wireless frequency, locking out all other possible carriers. Verizon and AT&T both run their LTE networks in the 700-MHz band. But Verizon's network is mostly in 746-787MHz, while AT&T's will be primarily in 704-746MHz. Some Verizon and AT&T spectrum overlaps in an area called the "lower B block," but not much. Verizon could build its phones to exclude AT&T's frequencies, and vice versa. The result is an incompatible welter of devices, likely to continue long into the future. If you're dreaming that LTE would allow one device to work on several U.S. networks, dream on.
And when we get out of the U.S., things only get worse. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has approved many different bands for LTE, including 700, 800, 850, 900, 1500, 1700, 1800, 1900, 2000, 2100, 2300, and 2600MHz. That may make it impossible for LTE phones built with current antenna technologies to roam truly globally. There are just too many bands. Verizon and AT&T creating incompatibilities within 700MHz is something rural wireless carriers have been complaining about for a while. The smaller carriers don't want to be locked into roaming with only one major partner depending on their choice of phones, as SouthernLINC CEO Robert Dawson explained to me a few months ago.
- Verizon iPhone 5 secret? It works on AT&T, too.
- Under settlement, AT&T to unlock phones - but not the iPhone
- Apple starts selling unlocked iPhones in US
- AT&T's cellphone unlocking policy comes under fire
- Apple selling unlocked iPhone in Canada, Europe
- Liberal Bloggers Brace for Victory
- Apple, Verizon consider iPhone deal
- AT&T's lawsuit over Verizon ads could backfire
- Technology: The right way to gain spectrum?
- The iPhone wars: AT&T vs. Verizon
- The misleading new cell phone ads from AT&T and Verizon
- Rural wireless companies tell FCC to unlock phones
- Quarter of Apple iPhones "unlocked": analyst
- AT&T plan is a wake-up call for regulators
- AT&T flings cellphone network wide open