It’s recently been discovered by Light Reading that Verizon Wireless is looking to hire a “Global LTE Roaming Manager“. The position is based out of New Jersey, and the word “global” is a bit overblown in this context since they’re really only looking for someone to manage relationships for Canada and Western Europe. Now we knew this would eventually happen as more and more LTE networks spring up around the world, but device makers have a herculean task in front of them. Verizon’s 4G LTE operates on the 700 MHz band. Canada’s 4G LTE uses the 2100 MHz band, though there are plans to have an auction for spectrum in the 700 MHz band. Europe doesn’t use either of those two, opting to go with a combination of 800 MHz and 2600 MHz, depending on whether service is deployed to the rural countryside or dense urban jungle. Worse yet, earlier this month the Global Mobile Suppliers Association issued a report saying that there’s huge support behind making the 1800 MHz band the global roaming standard for 4G LTE. That’s 5 different bands. Don’t forget that you also need support for 3G and 2G networks as well.
We’re in the early days of 4G LTE networks, that much is an understatement. We can’t think of a single European operator currently offering an LTE capable smartphone, and Nokia, who has traditionally been a leader when it comes to figuring out how to shove the latest radios inside their devices, has yet to launch a single LTE capable device. Don’t even get us started about voice. AT&T is currently using circuit switched fallback to enable voice and SMS, which is a fancy way of saying temporarily switching from 4G to 3G to perform the “legacy” tasks that make up a majority of an operator’s revenues today. Meanwhile Verizon’s LTE smartphones leave both the 3G and 4G radio on at the same time, sucking batteries dry with relative ease.
All these issues will be solved. Eventually. Hopefully.