Verizon: No, Our 4G LTE Phones Won’t Work With AT&T’s LTE Network

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Verizon has a 4G LTE network. AT&T is building a 4G LTE network. They both use SIM cards.

Surely, after all these years of running on vastly different network technologies (Verizon’s CDMA vs AT&T’s GSM) thus requiring silly things like two separate models of the iPhone, the two would have figured out some way to make their new, strikingly-similar networks play friendly together, right?

Nope.

In a statement to PCMag, a Verizon spokeswomen confirmed that their 4G/LTE phones will not work on AT&T’s 4G/LTE network, as “the phones will be on different frequencies.” And she’s right: Verizon’s LTE network operates in the upper half of the 700 Mhz range (746-787 Mhz), while AT&T’s operates on the lower half (704-746).

Here’s the thing, Verizon: the phones support the frequencies that they’re designed to support. When we’re dealing with a shared technology like LTE on two networks both operating within the same 100mhz range, whether or not a handset runs on both is much less a matter of technical limitations/challenges and much more a matter of business politics.

This separation makes some sense right now, all boiling down to phone calls. Verizon uses LTE for data, falling back to CDMA for voice. AT&T uses LTE for data as well, but falls back to GSM for voice instead. In the not-too-distant future, however, it’s almost certain that voice calls will be transitioned to the LTE network — and at that point, there’s no reason the line in the sand shouldn’t be washed away.

Figure it out, Verizon and AT&T. Don’t make the handset manufacturers research, develop, and build two separate phones. Don’t sneakily force customers to stay in your corner. At the very least, don’t blame it on the frequencies.