Verizon and AT&T 4G LTE Networks Incompatible
Verizon confirmed today that phones on its growing 4G LTE network will be incompatible with all other networks, despite previous indications that all LTE networks would be cross-compatible.
Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Raney told PCMag that Verizon LTE phones will not "be compatible on other networks in the U.S." and that "the phones will be on different frequencies."
One of the original benefits of 4G LTE technology was that it would combine varied 3G technologies (CDMA for Verizon and GSM for AT&T) that make it impossible to use the same phone on both networks. For instance, Apple must manufacture iPhones with different chipsets for the Verizon network. This meant that manufacturing would be simpler and that consumers could take their phone with them if they switched networks.
Despite LTE using a relatively small band of the wireless spectrum, LTE networks all use separate chunks of it: Verizon at 746 to 787MHz and AT&T at 704 to 746MHz. There are some overlaps, but the biggest problem is that Verizon and AT&T simply aren't building their phones to cover both sections of the spectrum.
Why do that? It's simple: Networks are already fighting for customers, and they don't want to make it easier for them to switch. It's even more complicated internationally, with a dozen different frequencies that LTE can use. The result is that phones won't be able to roam on other networks, which can be a problem for phone users in rural areas.
It's possible that manufacturers and networks will eventually make phones that can use the entire LTE spectrum, but for now, Verizon and AT&T phones will remain incompatible with the opposite network.