Verizon says LTE phones incompatible with other carriers

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
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."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 39
    jamesmcdjamesmcd Posts: 59member
    "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.
  • Reply 2 of 39
    richlrichl Posts: 2,213member
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 39
    aaarrrggghaaarrrgggh Posts: 1,562member
    Come on, government regulators! Do your job! This incompatibility is ultimately bad for everyone, including the telcos.
  • Reply 4 of 39
    onhkaonhka Posts: 1,025member
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 39
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 39
    hrissanhrissan Posts: 4member
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 39
    ajmasajmas Posts: 548member
    Most current GSM phones (including 3G) are multi-frequency, since they are designed fir international roaming.
  • Reply 8 of 39
    huntercrhuntercr Posts: 140member
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 39
    Here we go again...
  • Reply 10 of 39
    jr_bjr_b Posts: 63member
    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".
  • Reply 11 of 39
    aaarrrggghaaarrrgggh Posts: 1,562member
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 39
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,242member
    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.
  • Reply 13 of 39
    lfmorrisonlfmorrison Posts: 697member
    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).
  • Reply 14 of 39
    benroethigbenroethig Posts: 2,782member
    Different large carriers using different wireless spectrum? This is considered news? Major U.S. phone carriers are too large to share spectrum.
  • Reply 15 of 39
    8002580025 Posts: 172member
    [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?
  • Reply 16 of 39
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,558member
    Quote:
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 39
    wigginwiggin Posts: 2,258member
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 39
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,191member
    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.
  • Reply 19 of 39
    cvaldes1831cvaldes1831 Posts: 1,832member
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 39
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,963member
    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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