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Verizon Wireless customers on the carrier’s ultra-fast 4G LTE network can give up the faint glimmer of hope they may have of being able to roam onto competing LTE networks, PC Mag reports.
Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Raney confirmed yesterday that the company’s LTE phones aren’t compatible with other LTE networks in the US (from AT&T and MetroPCS) because they run on different network frequencies. The news means consumers will face the same confusing incompatibilities with next-generation cellular networks that they have with current 3G networks.
LTE phones rely on SIM cards, just like current GSM phones from AT&T and T-Mobile. “But Verizon may be designing its phones to only run on Verizon’s very specific wireless frequency, locking out all other possible carriers,” PC Mag’s Sascha Segan writes. “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.”
So it seems we’ll have to give up any hope LTE will be a magically universal standard that will simplify life for consumers. AT&T, which hasn’t announced any LTE phones yet, could very well lock down its devices just the same as Verizon. And other LTE networks, including MetroPCS’s existing one, as well as LightSquared and Cricket’s future setups, run on completely different frequencies from Verizon.
Segan also points out that the international LTE situation is even worse, with a multitude of potential frequencies that may be impossible to support with current LTE antennas. As for the US, someone could conceivably build a device that roams across all the competing networks, but that seems unlikely given that carriers seem so uninterested in cross-compatibility.