Verizon may have been the first to launch a high speed 4G LTE network in the United States, but it won’t be the last. AT&T is already unveiling its first LTE devices, with phones likely coming some time next year. MetroPCS is already running LTE in some areas. Unfortunately, Sascha Segan of PC Mag reports that Verizon’s LTE phones and devices may not be compatible with other networks because they’ll be “on different frequencies.”
The site claims that “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.”
MetroPSC is on a 1700MHz band where AT&T and Verizon may set up shop (they own spectrum), but have not done so yet. Then there’s LightSquared, which may set up a network in the 1500MHz band. Oh, and don’t forget about Cricket, which may end up in the 1700MHz range when it finally gets its LTE network running.
Making compatibility more difficult, both Verizon and MetroPCS still rely on their CDMA 3G network for phone calls (and data should 4G not be available), which is incompatible with AT&T’s HSPA/GSM network technology.
Of course, if AT&T, Verizon, and the gang can come to some sort of agreement, phones could be compatible with all networks, but until then, Segan says we should expect a fragmented LTE market that gets even worse when you travel abroad.