The Spectrum Problem
So I've been following the rollout of LTE around the world for some time now.
I like how it is going so far. Although I would have liked it better if the would have just called it LTE instead of 4G or 4G LTE. That's because this isn't 4G yet. Not according to the standards at least. We have to wait until they start rolling out LTE-Advanced before we can officially take on the name 4G. But no one cares anyway. So who am I talking to.
And the reason behind this post is all about the spectrum's being used for LTE. The International Telecommunications Union tried 15 years ago to harmonize the spectrum plan globally, but what works well for one country or region doesn't work well in another region. So I looked at the countries who are planning or already have LTE in their country. Which is a lot of countries at the moment. Almost every country planning or already have rolled out LTE are either using the 800MHz, 1.8 GHz or the 2.6 GHz band.
So no problem right? Well there is one thing. North America.
The official plan was to get a global roaming LTE network. Because it was GSM vs CDMA in the 3G age. And now it looks like LTE is becoming the next Blu-ray of the mobile network technologies. As you may know the United States was one of the first to roll out LTE. Mainly because the USA didn't really have real 3G in the first place and the 700 MHz spectrum was made available fairly quickly. Canada and Mexico Followed soon after. Also on the same Spectrum. And no other country in the world uses this. (Appears if you live in Nigeria you have LTE on the MHz band as well.)
While the rest of the world (Or planning to be) is on 800/1800/1900/2100/2600 MHz. Again most countries are using different spectrum's but all(or most) countries will be using the 1800MHz band.
You may have heard this around the release of the iPad 3. They came out with a Wi-Fi only version and a Wi-Fi + LTE version. And you might have guessed it. The LTE functionality does not work outside North America. So the entire world is walking around with an iPad with technology that only works in the States. So Australia got very mad blablabla. And now they changed it to Wi-Fi + Cellular. Same iPad, Same LTE chip. Only a different name on the box.
So i thought why would Apple put LTE in the new iPad in the first place? First I thought because their user-base in the US is much bigger then the rest of the world. But then I thought. Why release the LTE version in other countries??
The world really needs to work together in order to get this Spectrum problem fixed. It is not a major issue at the moment. But will be in the future. In terms of phone making. Not having to come out with a country specific version. Eurasia and Australia have their things together. With all using at least the 1800MHz spectrum. But North America really needs to step up on this. Currently there is nothing to do about it. Obama has said the USA will open some 17xx ish spectrum's from older TV broadcast that are not being used anymore. But that are not the spectrum's the world is looking for. Other then that it's just a matter of time.