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Verizon says LTE phones incompatible with other carriers

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 
Verizon Wireless confirmed on Thursday that 4G LTE phones it sells will be incompatible with rival networks in the U.S. because of spectrum differences.

Sascha Segan of PC Mag reports that, according to Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Raney, the carrier's Long-Term Evolution handsets will not "be compatible on other LTE networks in the U.S." because "the phones will be on different frequencies."

Verizon's 4G network operates mostly in the 746-787MHz range, compared to AT&T's 704-746MHz. Segan notes that a small portion of Verizon and AT&T spectrum overlaps in an area called the "lower B block," while adding that Verizon and AT&T could easily build their phones to exclude each other's frequencies.

Meanwhile, MetroPCS uses the 1700-MHz band for its LTE network. AT&T has indicated plans to use the same band, and Verizon owns spectrum in the same frequency, but it's unclear to what extent the exact frequencies for each carrier would overlap.

Verizon and AT&T already face incompatibility with their 2G and 3G networks. In order to launch the iPhone 4 on Verizon, Apple had to reengineer the device to work on a CDMA network.

During a recent event, several AT&T executives were unable to answer whether the carrier's upcoming LTE devices would be able to roam onto Verizon's network, Segan said. AT&T plans to bring LTE to 15 markets by the end of 2011, a full year behind Verizon. The company has accelerated its plans and hopes for its 4G network to be "largely complete" by the end of 2013.

Verizon launched its LTE network late last year, touting real-world data rates of between 5 and 12 megabits per second downstream, and 2 to 5 Mbps up.



Overseas, spectrum incompatibility gets even worse. According to the report, the International Telecommunication Union has approved a number of different bands for LTE, including "700, 800, 850, 900, 1500, 1700, 1800, 1900, 2000, 2100, 2300, and 2600MHz."

Seegan does, however, go on to note that it is "physically possible to build phones that cover both Verizon's and AT&T's frequencies" and the matter may come down to a "business arrangement." Given Apple's partnerships with the two companies, the company could negotiate dual-mode LTE capability ahead of an LTE iPhone launch.

However, Apple is reportedly not ready to release an LTE iPhone this year and is expected to delay the device until at least next year. Apple may have an edge over rival handset makers after having purchased critical LTE-related patents from Canadian telecom equipment maker Nortel.

Verizon executives are confident that Apple is indeed hard at work on an LTE-capable phone. "You'll see more coming from Apple on LTE," CEO Dan Mead said earlier this year. "They understand the value proposition of LTE and I feel very confident that they are going to be a part of it."
post #2 of 40
"touting real-world data rates of between 5 and 12 megabits per second downstream"

Seriously? I get 5-7 megabits per second on my crappy 3G in my city of 100,000 people.
post #3 of 40
The best 3G modems currently handle 5 bands. 12 seems unlikely but covering just two should be feasible very early in the life of LTE.
post #4 of 40
Come on, government regulators! Do your job! This incompatibility is ultimately bad for everyone, including the telcos.
post #5 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by aaarrrgggh View Post

Come on, government regulators! Do your job! This incompatibility is ultimately bad for everyone, including the telcos.

Perhaps a little reading will help you understand why there are differences. http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/cell-phone.htm

Keep in mind the costs to make wireless work. And nobody, individuals, enterprises or governments will or can afford to develop a system that works for everyone.
post #6 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Onhka View Post

Perhaps a little reading will help you understand why there are differences. http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/cell-phone.htm

Keep in mind the costs to make wireless work. And nobody, individuals, enterprises or governments will or can afford to develop a system that works for everyone.

I do not have access to the article you have linked to (thank you SonicWall!), but I thought it would be something akin to GSM phones. Initially, there were dual band GSM phones and then you had the so-called "world phones" which supported 3 bands and finally quad-band GSM phones which are "truly world phones".

So, are you saying that it isn't that simple with LTE and that initially there may be no phone that covers all the frequencies?

Not that I am too worried anyway. 3G is just coming up where I live and LTE is really a long time away.
post #7 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Onhka View Post

Perhaps a little reading will help you understand why there are differences. http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/cell-phone.htm

Keep in mind the costs to make wireless work. And nobody, individuals, enterprises or governments will or can afford to develop a system that works for everyone.

Well, let's have an example: WiFi, it has 2 bands, 2.4GHz, the other is 5GHz. As 2 bands are not too expensive, the compatibility is very good.

And now it comes with 4G, the matters are shocking bad. 12 bands! This is plain nonsense. Almost all phones and towers will be incompatible!

Do you understand how large WASTE of human resources this provokes? Forget roaming to other operator cell tower in countryside, buy new phone when you go to another country or switch operator. Also less developed countries cannot buy used equipment from more developed countries.

The reason? This is how operators and equipment producers love the World to be!
And the job of regulator is prevent this waste pf resources, this is plain and esy.
post #8 of 40
Most current GSM phones (including 3G) are multi-frequency, since they are designed fir international roaming.
post #9 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by hrissan View Post

Well, let's have an example: WiFi, it has 2 bands, 2.4GHz, the other is 5GHz. As 2 bands are not too expensive, the compatibility is very good.

And now it comes with 4G, the matters are shocking bad. 12 bands! This is plain nonsense. Almost all phones and towers will be incompatible!

Do you understand how large WASTE of human resources this provokes? Forget roaming to other operator cell tower in countryside, buy new phone when you go to another country or switch operator. Also less developed countries cannot buy used equipment from more developed countries.

The reason? This is how operators and equipment producers love the World to be!
And the job of regulator is prevent this waste pf resources, this is plain and esy.

Do you realize that much of the LTE standard includes backwards compatibility with GSM?

it's not going to be a problem at all. Verizon is doing this on purpose.
post #10 of 40
Here we go again...
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post #11 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by aaarrrgggh View Post

Come on, government regulators! Do your job! This incompatibility is ultimately bad for everyone, including the telcos.

That would be "Big Government".
post #12 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by ajmas View Post

Most current GSM phones (including 3G) are multi-frequency, since they are designed fir international roaming.

There are, if memory serves me, 6 different bands; the most any system supports is four. The standard required two bands minimum for migration purposes.

Every phone need not support every band, but there needs to be a minimum level of functionality among bands if you want to call the thing a standard.

I fully understand how we got here, and whose interests it is in to keep it this way; the problem is that it is a long term mess that will never get fixed. Picture what happens after mergers and acquisitions as well.

People can complain about big government all they want, but I imagine most people are happy their television just works with all channels.
post #13 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by BestKeptSecret View Post

I do not have access to the article you have linked to (thank you SonicWall!), ...

It's not a problem caused by the Sonicwall firewall. I administer several of them. Most likely the admin configured the content filter to block these types of sites without really taking the time to examine the usage patterns. Fantastic product.
post #14 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by aaarrrgggh View Post

There are, if memory serves me, 6 different bands; the most any system supports is four. The standard required two bands minimum for migration purposes.

At least a few chipsets can physically handle five 3G frequency bands.

The FCC filings for the GSM model of the iPhone 4, for example, disclose that the iPhone 4 works on 4 GSM (2G) bands (not listed in the FCC filing, but we know them to be 850/900/1800/1900). The same filing also says that it works on 5 UMTS (3G) bands (the filing specifically lists I/II/V/VI/VIII).
post #15 of 40
Different large carriers using different wireless spectrum? This is considered news? Major U.S. phone carriers are too large to share spectrum.
post #16 of 40
[QUOTE=AppleInsider;1900797]Verizon Wireless confirmed on Thursday that 4G LTE phones it sells will be incompatible with rival networks in the U.S. because of spectrum differences.

Well that's yet another way to lock a customer into a service provide. Can you hear me now?
post #17 of 40
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Originally Posted by jr_b View Post

That would be "Big Government".

The problem here is too little government, and a theological belief that markets solve problems.
post #18 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

The problem here is too little government, and a theological belief that markets solve problems.

While it's easy to point to government and say "fix this for me", I have to wonder what people think the appropriate action by government should be? Mandate interoperability, resulting in bigger, more expensive, less efficient phones?

Short of passing a law outlawing the laws of physics, which limit how much spectrum is available, there's not a whole lot they can do that wouldn't result in negative side effects. The fact that there are so many different frequencies being used, or planned to be used, for LTE worldwide suggests that the real problem is that in order to make LTE work, carriers around the world took whatever chunks of spectrum they could find for their new networks. Remember, all of those existing 2G and 3G networks are taking up a chunk of the available spectrum.

Before asking government for a solution, I'd be asking the standards setting body why they didn't mandate a minimal interoperability standard. Perhaps they considered it but it just wasn't feasible in any practical manner.

As 2G and 3G services get phased out, those frequencies will become available opening the door to consolidation. And as 4G chipsets improve they will inevitably be able to support more frequencies, just like GSM phones slowly added additional frequencies.

And at the end of the day, 4G service is hardly a basic necessity like water and electrical services. There are far bigger issues I'd rather have government focus on solving than if you can switch your 4G cell service from Verizon to ATT.
post #19 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by huntercr View Post

Do you realize that much of the LTE standard includes backwards compatibility with GSM?

it's not going to be a problem at all. Verizon is doing this on purpose.

Even if they aren't doing it on purpose and there is a legit technical barrier, lets just say they aren't losing sleep over it or rushing to help fix it.

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post #20 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesmcd View Post

"touting real-world data rates of between 5 and 12 megabits per second downstream"

Seriously? I get 5-7 megabits per second on my crappy 3G in my city of 100,000 people.

You're in an industrialized country not named the United States of America, meaning you're getting second or third-generation HSPA+ speeds.

Cellular network technology in the United States is two or three years behind that of other industrialized nations.

I don't know why anyone would be a fanboy of Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA or Sprint. They all suck very large rocks.

Oddly, there seem to be tons of people here who bicker over such matters. They have no clue as to what is a real cellular network. They've probably never ever traveled out of their state, let alone the country.

Embarrassing.
post #21 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by aaarrrgggh View Post

Come on, government regulators! Do your job! This incompatibility is ultimately bad for everyone, including the telcos.

Competition isn't always good for the consumer. This is one case where the gov't should've issued specifications or standards.
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post #22 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by ranReloaded View Post

Here we go again...

You beat me to it... Yep VZ in its all controlling nature went down a non standard LTB path, so it just limits them yet again...

People the government does not need to fix this, people just vote with your pocket books, The only reason that VZ is as big as it is, because they bough up competitors in their space over the last 15 yrs. They give away cheap crappy phones with two yr agreements and most of the people on VZ could care less about everything everyone here is complaining about.

I will tell you this, drop calls on AT&T is not an iphone only issue, got a new Atrix for work and switch from T-Moble to get it and it drops calls like crazy especially when in a building. Yeah T-mobile did not have coverage everywhere, but when I did have a connection even one bar I never dropped a call. However, i will tell you the Atrix Data on AT&T is faster than any other phone I seen on VZ or AT&T or T-mobile
post #23 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

People the government does not need to fix this, people just vote with your pocket books,

Telecom firms are quasi monopolies due to the limited amounts of bandwidth, as such it is entirely appropriate that government regulation be stricter than it is on say, PC makers. People will choose a carrier based on who gives them a good signal, often they won't have a good choice - so market forces are not enough.
post #24 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

The problem here is too little government, and a theological belief that markets solve problems.

Yep, that's what Lenin and Trotsky said. What a wonderful economy they created.
post #25 of 40
OH BOY!!! I can't wait to try to leave a carrier to figure out I have to buy a new phone....again.
post #26 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by aaarrrgggh View Post

Come on, government regulators! Do your job! This incompatibility is ultimately bad for everyone, including the telcos.

Nah, I want governments to focus on more important issues.

The international standards body should mandate some level of interoperability and not rely on the regional governments to work this out.

That said it is likely that future generations of LTE chips will have greater interoperability between the various spectrum allocations around the world.

This is yet another reason why the next generation iPhone will probably not be LTE compatible. The technology is still relatively immature. LTE deployment around the world is very spotty right now and the hardware is still in its infancy. Heck, the specification for voice over LTE isn't even complete.
post #27 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by cloudgazer View Post

Telecom firms are quasi monopolies due to the limited amounts of bandwidth, as such it is entirely appropriate that government regulation be stricter than it is on say, PC makers. People will choose a carrier based on who gives them a good signal, often they won't have a good choice - so market forces are not enough.

True, and I do think some regulation is necessary to ensure people have access to services. But to regulate that a specific phone is portable between networks? That seems more the job of the standards setting body than the government. And regardless of any regulation on hardware compatibility, how does that address the lack of available spectrum? I could have a phone that works on every network, but you'd still choose your service based on who gives a good signal. In other words, you still have the same choice of carriers you'd have if the hardware wasn't interoperable. The only thing an interoperable handset would help is if you are proposing government mandated internetwork roaming agreements. But that is hardly a 4G issue.

I do think phone service is an essential service and the government should ensure everyone has access, but I don't think smartphone service is in any way essential. There are any number of free phones available with your service, so there is no financial penalty to switching networks when you contract is up. And if you have the resources (ie, money) to own a smartphone, then I would argue you are less in need of the government looking after your interests (in this area).

Where the government could and should step in is in transparency of the service contracts and related fees. Help the consumer be better informed of the choices they make so they can make better choices. It's far better to have an educated consumer than to rely on the goverment to do our fishing for us.

[In case nobody got the fishing reference: "Feed a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime." ]
post #28 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by cvaldes1831 View Post

Nah, I want governments to focus on more important issues.

The international standards body should mandate some level of interoperability and not rely on the regional governments to work this out.

Very true. If you let the governments do the job, you'll still have varying technology between countries.
post #29 of 40
Yeah, in this case, it's more about spectrum allocation. The world is running out of wireless frequencies to use.

The 700MHz spectrum in North America became available because analog television transmission was discontinued.
post #30 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggin View Post

Very true. If you let the governments do the job, you'll still have varying technology between countries.

Not once we get One World Government.
post #31 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggin View Post

While it's easy to point to government and say "fix this for me", I have to wonder what people think the appropriate action by government should be? Mandate interoperability, resulting in bigger, more expensive, less efficient phones?...

Perhaps to build the network out themselves, or contract with a single entity to do so, and charge carriers for use, who then become simply backhaulers. This is essentially the model used for the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways in the U.S. and, although not perfectly analogous, it works better for the public than the current wireless carrier model, which uses spectrum wastefully. Imagine if 3 or 4 companies built parallel Interstate Highway systems, compatible only with the cars they sold. It's a nightmare for everyone -- consumers, handset manufacturers, etc. -- except the carriers.

Quote:
...Before asking government for a solution, I'd be asking the standards setting body why they didn't mandate a minimal interoperability standard. Perhaps they considered it but it just wasn't feasible in any practical manner. ...

The standards setting bodies don't represent the public, they represent the industry, so they aren't going to be looking out for the public interest, which is the job of government.
post #32 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

Perhaps to build the network out themselves, or contract with a single entity to do so, and charge carriers for use, who then become simply backhaulers. This is essentially the model used for the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways in the U.S. and, although not perfectly analogous, it works better for the public than the current wireless carrier model, which uses spectrum wastefully. Imagine if 3 or 4 companies built parallel Interstate Highway systems, compatible only with the cars they sold. It's a nightmare for everyone -- consumers, handset manufacturers, etc. -- except the carriers.



The standards setting bodies don't represent the public, they represent the industry, so they aren't going to be looking out for the public interest, which is the job of government.

The highways work better? Everywhere I go I find toll highways better maintained and they weren't built with tax dollars. Further, people who don't use them don't have to pay for them. You did get the "not perfectly analogous" part right, though.
post #33 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hudson1 View Post

The highways work better? Everywhere I go I find toll highways better maintained and they weren't built with tax dollars. Further, people who don't use them don't have to pay for them. You did get the "not perfectly analogous" part right, though.

You're like 16 and don't remember a time when this country actually invested in infrastructure, right? There aren't any toll highways in the U.S. that weren't originally built with tax dollars.
post #34 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

Perhaps to build the network out themselves, or contract with a single entity to do so, and charge carriers for use, who then become simply backhaulers. This is essentially the model used for the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways in the U.S. and, although not perfectly analogous, it works better for the public than the current wireless carrier model, which uses spectrum wastefully. Imagine if 3 or 4 companies built parallel Interstate Highway systems, compatible only with the cars they sold. It's a nightmare for everyone -- consumers, handset manufacturers, etc. -- except the carriers.

I understand the analogy you are trying to make, but I'm also trying to think of an example of a government maintained infrastructure that then has a private entity actually be the ones who control access to the service. There's nobody standing between me and highway when I want to go for a drive. You could turn over the entire thing to the goverment (get rid of the carriers altogether), but then you are sure to end up back with the previous poster's comment about potholes (and collapsed bridges, etc). And everyone would get taxed to support it, even if you never used it (bring us back to the "is this an essential service" question).

A better method would be not to force carriers to only sell hardware that works on all networks, but to tell them they must allow people to attached their own devices (imagine if Microsoft made a deal with Comcast whereby only Windows computers would be allowed to connect to the cable company's internet service!). This is one of the reasons Ma Bell got broken up, they were forcing people to only get phones from the phone company. It's also the reason why the cable industry was forced to create CableCards (although that's been largely a failure because they let the cable company run the show).

Combine that with transparency in the contracts and fees (how much of my monthly payment go towards paying off the subsidy/loan from the carrier to get my handset?), then the customer has choice. If I want to pay more for a multicarrier device and preserve my options to switch carriers later, then I can. But if I know I want ATT and that's all I need, I can have that consideration when I purchase a handset. Handset manufacturers can finally start working for the people using their devices instead of for the carriers (Apple leading the trend on that). We can choose a handset based on the network we want to use instead of choosing a network based on the handset we want to use. And the carriers will be more dependent on the quality of their service to attract customers instead leveraging exclusive handset deals, forced contracts, and locked phones to prevent people from switching.
post #35 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggin View Post

I understand the analogy you are trying to make, but I'm also trying to think of an example of a government maintained infrastructure that then has a private entity actually be the ones who control access to the service. There's nobody standing between me and highway when I want to go for a drive. ...

As I indicated, it's not an exact analogy, however, it would probably work better for the public than the current chaos. (And, theoretically, at least, highways are maintained by the people who use them, through fuel taxes.) There are also any number of other approaches that could work, including simply a government mandate that they agree on common frequencies. The main point is that the lack of governmental oversight of the use of what is in fact a public resource is harmful to consumers, wasteful, and is even a burden on handset manufacturers.

But, who knows, maybe, combined with a (hypothetical) mandate that carriers allow people to use whatever equipment they want, someone will come up with a cellular radio that can simply tune itself to whatever frequency is required and work on any network, undermining the carriers obvious attempt to avoid real competition at any cost to everyone.
post #36 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

You're like 16 and don't remember a time when this country actually invested in infrastructure, right? There aren't any toll highways in the U.S. that weren't originally built with tax dollars.

Guess again... my youngest child is past 16. Toll highways were built with bond money. Granted, the bonds were backed by the government but tolls, not taxes, were used to pay the bond buyers.

If you don't like the idea of private enterprise running wireless telecom networks then are you willing for the government (i.e. the citizens) to buy back the spectrum that it sold for many billions of dollars? That's a lot of money you, me, and every other person will have to write a check for to ATT, VerizonWireless, etc.
post #37 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by huntercr View Post

Do you realize that much of the LTE standard includes backwards compatibility with GSM?

it's not going to be a problem at all. Verizon is doing this on purpose.

Exactly. It's Verizon's belief that compatibility with other carriers hurts it's business. That has always been the case. Did you also notice that Verizon's LTE speeds are half what AT&T's are? Come on big V. Don't make me switch. I need a phone that works world-wide. As if they care if I do.
post #38 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

Even if they aren't doing it on purpose and there is a legit technical barrier, lets just say they aren't losing sleep over it or rushing to help fix it.

There is a technical barrier. The Lower the Mghz, The better the bandwith! Which is why Verizon purchased the 700 mghz bandwith which used to be Analog Television. At&t purchased the 800. There will be 3 phases of LTE. The first which is Now, 5-12 megabytes per second. The Second which relates to the GSM question 12-50 per sec so by now there will be the introduction of VOICE OVER LTE as the new standard. Then last 50-1 terabytes.

I'm sure roaming will be eventually be rolled out for international roaming....?

Vodaphone, china unicom, and other's are also going LTE
post #39 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hudson1 View Post

Guess again... my youngest child is past 16. Toll highways were built with bond money. Granted, the bonds were backed by the government but tolls, not taxes, were used to pay the bond buyers.

Tolls are taxes. And apparently your memory has started to go, since it's only since the taxes are evil crowd came around and our national infrastructure was allowed to decay that toll roads were in many cases kept better maintained than other highways, and that's often because by law the money can't be used for anything else. The idea that the government shouldn't build infrastructure is simply stupid.

Quote:
If you don't like the idea of private enterprise running wireless telecom networks then are you willing for the government (i.e. the citizens) to buy back the spectrum that it sold for many billions of dollars? That's a lot of money you, me, and every other person will have to write a check for to ATT, VerizonWireless, etc.

They don't have to buy it back, they can simply mandate, in the public interest, that it be used for the public benefit. If the carriers don't like that, they can give it back. The carriers don't own the spectrum, they only own rights to use it in accordance with government regulation. (And, have they actually paid in full for use of spectrum, or are they paying for it over some number of years? I'd be surprised if it's the former.)
post #40 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by theobold View Post

There is a technical barrier. The Lower the Mghz, The better the bandwith! Which is why Verizon purchased the 700 mghz bandwith which used to be Analog Television. At&t purchased the 800.

Not quite. The lower the frequency, the better the coverage (less attenuation). The higher the bandwidth used -> More speed (á la Shannon). That has very little to do with the selected frequency band in use. You can have 1.5, 5, 10, 20 MHz chunks in any of the frequency bands.

Quote:
Originally Posted by theobold View Post

There will be 3 phases of LTE. The first which is Now, 5-12 megabytes per second. The Second which relates to the GSM question 12-50 per sec so by now there will be the introduction of VOICE OVER LTE as the new standard. Then last 50-1 terabytes.

The first, which is now is around 40-80Mbps as shown in the Nordics and Korea. Next stage will likely be a single digit multiplier to that.

50-1 terabytes? Not likely to happen at all. To get the 1Gbps (1/8000th of 1tB) requires the use of 8x8 MIMO on a 120Mhz band. That is not going to happen anytime soon. Many operators are having difficulties in obtaining just 20MHz.

Voice over LTE has been specified and is now being implemented, but that'l take a few years to porperly deploy.

Regs, Jarkko
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