We have barely seen the introduction of 4G LTE into the UK and yet globally there is a major issue that will confront us all very soon.
At present there are over 40 different frequencies in use in Europe and the U.S. so many 4G smartphones will not travel well, if at all. I clearly remember the 90's when dual-band phones let us use just 2 frequencies and this let us use our mobile phones in Europe but elsewhere in the world you would need a tri-band or quad-band phone. The choice of these was slim in the beginning and it took almost a decade for quad-band phones to become the norm.
The same challenge is ahead of us with 4G LTE but this time around Qualcomm has decided to take on the challenge and create the RF360 chipset. This chipset will allow future 4G smartphones to roam between about 40 different frequencies and they intend to launch this chipset during 2013.
Unfortunately the story doesn't end here though. At present there are no 4G roaming agreements in place between mobile phone networks in Europe and the U.S. The situation was the same over a decade ago with phones able to pick up the frequencies in America but you had to buy a foreign SIM card as there was no agreement for roaming between the mobile network in the UK and the network abroad.
Initially the same solution will be available to travellers and we may be back to collecting foreign SIM cards like foreign coins when we go on holiday. Lets hope it doesn't take too long for the networks to sort out their 4G roaming agreements!
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Author: Carmel Brown