Future Verizon Phones Will Speak GSM and CDMA Both

Verizon keeps making head-scratchingly positive announcements. First last week’s announcement of a network open to devices from third-parties. Today the adoption of “LTE,” or “Long Term Evolution,” a set of standards that will both pave the way towards simple IP packetizing (to get made-up-words technical) and, more importantly to most customers, allow phones that work on Verizon’s CDMA network to also work on the GSM networks used by AT&T, T-Mobile, and most carriers in Europe and Africa. That will mean greater out-of-network roaming options, as well as the ability to transfer a phone’s service permanently from one carrier to another. (In theory, at least.)

Verizon’s Real Move to Openness [Bits.Blogs.NYTimes.com via Gadget Lab]

Previously: Damning Video: Verizon Reps Misquote Rates 93% of the Time [BBG]
Leaked Verizon “Can You Hear Me Now?” Style Book is Hilarious [BBG]

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8 Responses to Future Verizon Phones Will Speak GSM and CDMA Both

  1. Marie says:

    They aren’t idiots. They are probably feeling a backlash from everyone switching to AT&T to get the Iphone. I would rather give up my cell phone then to go back to AT&T.

  2. cautionyou says:

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  3. Benny says:

    I’m seriously scared, I can’t help but see this as some sort of corporate wool pulling. The problem is that back then I can just rely on them being incompetently evil, but now it looks like they are developing smarts, and I can’t predict what they are gonna do, and IT. FRIGHTENS. ME.

  4. Brouhaha says:

    Don’t forget, they’re owned by Vodaphone, a EU GSM provider. Vodaphone’s been pushing for this switch for years, but Verizon has fought it. This may be no more than Verizon’s compromise response to internal corporate pressure.

  5. space race ace says:

    Ah ha! This makes much more sense for their intended acquisition of Unicel. Unicel is a huge carrier of rural cell phone service but it only runs on GSM; it’s been a criticized move for VZW because it’s suspected that they’d just eliminate the GSM and move to CDMA. Here in New Hampshire/Vermont, a lot of people rely on Unicel’s towers for all GSM in the area; this includes people on AT&T. Now, with keeping GSM capabilities, it’s much easier to get the phones, which are replaced every 2 years, to swing both ways (AC/DC?) than it is to replace all of Unicel’s tower technology. This also allowed them to rake in money from people using the Unicel towers with other providers. This might allow them the green light they need from the government in order to acquire Unicel? Just a thought.

  6. Joel Johnson says:

    You may be right, Glenn. You’re certainly correct that the adoption of LTE does not guarantee interoperatibility. But it’s not unreasonable to presume that a future Verizon phone could have two radios inside, as you mentioned, and as I presumed. It’s not that Verizon is switching to GSM, but that the LTE layer may make it easier to build phones that switch to whatever network is available, again provided the hardware can do both. Anyway, I get what you’re saying, but I wasn’t implying that Verizon would switch to GSM, just that future hardware may work on both flavors of network.

  7. hisotaso says:

    Well I just got off the phone with verizon, asking if i could use my old samsung sgh t809 on thier network. The rep says unfortunately no, but by the end of the year they will be able to accept gsm phones. I take this with a grain of salt, but who knows.

  8. Glenn Fleishman says:

    I don’t believe your conclusion is correct.

    Verizon will use LTE, but that doesn’t translate to their phones being GSM compatible. European carriers are also planning on using LTE. Which means that LTE networks could interoperate worldwide.

    For Verizon to switch to GSM, they’d have to duplicate all the base stations for all the voice traffic they currently carry. That seems unlikely. LTE will be an overlay, and while it will carry voice, it also will likely not reach the far corners of the US for many years, just like EVDO may be the 3G flavor of the day for Verizon, but it’s only found in large cities.

    So we’ll see how Verizon phones work elsewhere, and it’s likely that software-define radio or cheaper convergence chips that do GSM and CDMA will make an impact, too, before Verizon builds GSM as its basic telephony standard into its network.

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