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Verizon LTE phones might be incompatible with AT&T’s network


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.”

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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.

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T-Mobile’s LTE network is faster than Verizon’s right now, but how long will that last?
T-Mobile Galaxy Note 2 SpeedTest LTE

Yesterday, T-Mobile not only officially announced its 4G LTE network, it also brought that network online in select cities, including here in New York City. We got a chance to see the network running on several different smartphones: the iPhone 5, HTC One, Galaxy Note 2, BlackBerry Z10, and a tiny bit on the Galaxy S4. T-Mobile's purpose was to wow the crowd with these phones' lightning fast speeds, and we did see fast downloads and uploads. Thing is, since the network is ultra new, there are few devices actually running on it. Thus, the speeds are going to be fast.
We experienced the same when Verizon, then AT&T, then Sprint rolled out their LTE networks. Ridiculous, mind-blowing speeds when the network is new slowing down to not-so-ridiculous but still fast and impressive speeds once millions of others share it with you. It's worth noting that the network speeds we saw on devices at today's launch are higher than those we saw when Verizon's LTE network launched back in 2011 and there weren't many people on it. The Galaxy Note 2 scored 56 Mbps up and 23 Mbps down, the HTC One got 34 Mbps up and 21 Mbps down, the iPhone 5 (the slowest) is still impressive with 27 Mbps up and 13 Mbps down. Those speeds are many times faster than what you likely get at home on Wi-Fi. Watch the video above to see how these scores compare to Verizon's network right now.

Another benefit T-Mobile can offer that Verizon and Sprint don't (on phones, anyway) is fallback to a network faster than 3G when you're out of LTE range. LTE smartphones on T-Mobile will work on the HSPA+ 42 network as well, which is nationwide. T-Mobile also claims that the HSPA+ network has 50 percent more bandwidth than AT&T's, so even when more people pile on to take advantage of the data plans, customers won't experience considerable choking.
The promise of ultra fast speeds is a tempting one, but there are some drawbacks in the data plans T-Mobile offers. Each of them is labeled "Unlimited," but the speed of your unlimited web depends upon usage. The $50 plan only gives you 500MB of LTE data before you're busted down to 2G. At least you can have all the 2G data you want for no extra charge ... The $60 plan gives you 2.5GB of high speed, which is more in line with what most people use in a month. Again, once you use that up, you're on 2G until the rollover to the next month. The $70 unlimited plan is all high speed 4G all the time. However, if you want to use the mobile hotspot/tethering on your phone, you only get 500MB of 4G for that. 500MB is nothing on a computer, and this allotment will get chewed up quickly.

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AT&T to expand LTE coverage by acquiring Verizon’s 700MHz spectrum licenses

It looks like 2013 could be the year of LTE for AT&T. The carrier just announced a deal with Verizon Wireless that would allow it to acquire Verizon’s 700 MHz spectrum. Through this acquisition, AT&T will provide LTE coverage to 42 million people across 18 states in North America, the carrier said in a statement on Friday.
These states include California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming. AT&T has just acquired these licenses for $1.9B from Verizon.
This 700MHz band was originally used to broadcast analog TV channels, but now that Verizon uses digital technology for its TV services the spectrum has been up for auction since 2008. During that auction Verizon and U.S. Cellular won Block A, which contained licenses covering urban areas. AT&T, however, acquired a whopping 227 licenses when it purchased Block B through the auction.
AT&T uses this 700MHz spectrum to expand its 4G LTE coverage across the United States. The carrier is also providing licenses of its AWS spectrum to Verizon in select markets, such as Los Angeles, Fresno and Portland, so that Verizon can further deploy its own network.
Additionally, Verizon revealed why it has decided to give up these extra 700MHz licenses, according to TechCrunch. During the 2008 auction, the carrier picked up 127 licenses in Block B, which are involved in its current sale with AT&T. Until now, Verizon had used these licenses to provide supplemental coverage in urban areas before it had acquired other licenses that would cover holes in its nationwide network.  This, however, means that it would make sense for AT&T to acquire these licenses, since its exactly what Verizon needs to continue deploying its own LTE network.
This move also serves to help AT&T reach a goal it announced this past November - to reach 300 million people in the U.S. with its 4G LTE network by the end of 2014.

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T-Mobile’s CEO is doing something crazy: He’s trying to not rip us off

I wrote T-Mobile off a long time ago. In my mind, it was a last-place carrier going nowhere fast. Last night, I changed my mind. I hobbled to T-Mobile’s CES press conference with a groan and a grumble, but I left with a smile and sense of loyalty. In less than an hour, T-Mobile’s new CEO John Legere made me laugh repeatedly, stunned me with his honesty, and convinced me that T-Mobile might just have what it takes to become the kind of wireless carrier we need in the United States … really badly.  
Last night, Legere trashed AT&T’s network repeatedly, said Sprint botched its LTE rollout, blatantly admitted that Verizon’s network is amazing, and said that shared data plans won’t work because porn takes too much data to stream. He was so blunt and so honest that he completely took the crowd of 70 or so journalists by surprise. And his jokes had the crowd of mobile nerds (and me) laughing so much a stand up comic would get jealous. Several times, he even repeated how little he cared about us. Baseball legend Joe Torre, who was in attendance, was the real reason he was there.
“I just wanted to meet Joe Torre. I could give a damn about all of you, but they said I had to say something if I wanted to come up,” he said to a laugh as his Q&A session began, informing the crowd that he would be around about two hours to take questions because, well … there’s free alcohol.
“Anybody want to taunt me into saying something inappropriate so you can put it in the media tomorrow?” he challenged with a smile.
And that’s all it took. What followed was something I haven’t seen anywhere else at CES. A real person answering real questions, unafraid of anything or anyone. Legere told us exactly where T-Mobile is and where he wants to see it go in detail, all while prodding his competitors with jokes and jabs - especially AT&T. 
“We didn’t even get started on our network, and right now, proven, our network is faster than AT&T and Verizon in New York City,” said Legere. “Anybody here from New York? Any of you use AT&T? Any of you who use them, are you happy? Of course not. Their network’s crap. We’re faster than they are in Chicago, and Minneapolis. We’re faster than them in, you know, I could go down seven or eight cities.”
The jokes didn’t stop as Legere described a bunch of ads he wished T-Mobile would run. 
"This is not an ad .... but [imagine a] picture of a 7-year-old boy holding a little toy and he’s pouting and the caption says ‘Do AT&T executives make their children wait two years to open their presents?’ So, you know this is not where we’re headed, but we’re going to go into, well … how about ‘If there’s that many strings attached, how can it be called wireless?’"
In between the zingers, he also laid out an amazing vision for T-Mobile. Admitting that his carrier lost its mojo since its failed merger with AT&T, he explained what he meant by T-Mobile’s new branding as an “uncarrier.”
“It’s going to be about solving customers’ pain points. Customers who can’t stand opaque billing, lack of transparency, surprises, being locked in, lack of flexibility, lack of ability to control their own destiny, and being treated like second-class citizens because of the length of their terms of service.”
To do that, T-Mobile is turning its back on a number of the money-grubbing practices that have, sadly, become standard in the wireless industry. They will no longer require two-year contracts, people can bring devices from any carrier, and he’s going to end hidden charges. Instead of secretly building the cost of phones into a two-year contract, T-Mobile will sell phones for their full (expensive) prices. He unveiled a $70-a-month unlimited talk, text, and data plan with no throttling - a price and option we haven’t seen for years – promised the iPhone, and said that this is just the beginning. You know what? I believe him.
U.S. carriers like Verizon and AT&T are ripping us off and finally someone has smartened up to the business opportunity. By becoming everything that Verizon and AT&T aren’t (honest), but matching their network speeds and reliability with a rapid LTE rollout in 2013, T-Mobile could become the carrier I’ve dreamed of.
I’m a Verizon user. I have been for two years. Before that, I had AT&T. But after attending T-Mobile’s press conference last night, I may soon take my number purple. Last night, John Legere joked that T-Mobile improved how the public perceived its network quality by 10 percent “because we ran 25,000 ads saying that our network was really great.” He might be full of crap, but after an hour of listening to the new CEO, I can’t talk enough about T-Mobile.

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