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Network compatibility of devices

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Gloss21

Basics Edit

This survey shows how to check the network compatibility of common devices like phones, tablets or modems. If you have an unlocked device, different technologies and employed frequencies pose the biggest obstacle to use it somewhere else.

GSM-based and other devices Edit

First of all you need to determine, if you have a GSM device. This standard is used in all countries in the world. Only two systems really survived: GSM and CDMA. All others like WiMAX, iDEN have been shut down.

There are only a hand full of countries with CDMA remaining, but major operators like in the USA (Verizon, Sprint), China (China Telecom) or Japan (KDDI) still use it. Coming from one of those countries and networks, you'll need to be sure to have a 'world phone' with a SIM card slot to have coverage in the rest of the world. All others from other places don't really need to care about this.
Intro7-0

How to determine compatiblity of a GSM device Edit

First, you have to find out on which frequencies your device operates. You need to check 2G, 3G and 4G seperately. A phone that is working on 1900 MHz in 2G doesn't need to work on the same frequencies in 3G or 4G.

Major phone models with the same name or number are sold in various versions in different regions of the world. Sometimes it's quite tricky to find out which version of a specific model you actually have.

You can check various websites where technical phone specifications are listed like for example www.gsmarena.com. Another source of information can be your manual. Sometimes, it just works, when you put in your phone model and "frequency" on Google and check results.

Sometimes different abbreviations are used, but they always refer to either 2G, 3G or 4G/LTE:

  • 2G: GSM, GPRS, EDGE
  • 3G: UMTS, W-CDMA, HSPA, HSDPA, HSUPA, HSPA+ or any of these with DC- before
  • 4G: LTE. LTE+, LTE Advanced, TD-LTE, FD-LTE, TDD-LTE, FDD-LTE

These results either in MHz (or Bands for LTE) you should write down for 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE. Then check our country listings and the given frequency bands in the Basics chapter of each article and country. You need to compare these with the numbers taken from your device information again for 2G, 3G and 4G. If you have a coincidence, you will have coverage. If not all numbers match, the coverage may be limited. If numbers are different, your device wont work at all.

LG

For example this LG G5 phone works on four 2G frequencies, seven 3G spectrums each given in MHz and 15 LTE bands given by the band number.

You can skip the whole procedure and go right away to a site like http://willmyphonework.net/. But their information is not always accurate and doesen't differ between primary (mostly used) or secondary (back-up) frequencies.

Incompatibilites Edit

Compatibility depends on two things: your device and where you are going. High-end smartphones tend to be more universal than cheap ones. Mostly within the same world region, the same spectrums are used. So you can be pretty sure in Europe or Asia that your phone works in the neighbouring country too. This can be different in diverse regions like the Caribbean or the South Pacific.

A particular hotspot is the USA that employs frequencies rarely used anywhere else. Only high-end devices from other markets in overseas can cope with it. Apple's iPhones 5, 6 or 7, some top-class Androids by e.g. Samsung, HTC or LG and some Windows Phone Luminas have both European/Asian and US LTE bands. This issue is addressed in detail in the United States article. You better check before travelling to avoid blackouts.

Links Edit

For phone specifcations:

For frequencies:

Combining both:

Survey of frequencies Edit

2G frequencies (GSM) Edit

2g

4 frequencies are used worldwide for GSM:

  • 850 MHz
  • 900 MHz
  • 1800 MHz
  • 1900 MHz

A phone working on 3 frequencies is called tri-band, on all 4 frequencies quad-band.

3G frequencies (UMTS) Edit

3g-0

8 frequencies are used worldwide for UMTS. The first 5 are the most common:

  • Band 1: 2100 MHz (IMT)
  • Band 2: 1900 MHz (PCS)
  • Band 4: 1700 MHz (AWS)
  • Band 5: 850 MHz (CLR)
  • Band 8: 900 MHz (E-GSM)
  • Band 19 (formely 6): 800 MHz (only used by NTTDoCoMo in Japan)

4G frequencies (LTE) Edit

4g

More than 30 frequencies are used worldwide for 4G/LTE. Frequencies on LTE should be identified by their band number and not by their MHz value, as several bands can share the same MHz frequency but are otherwise incompatible among devices. To make things more complex, some bands can exist entirely within other bands: band 17 is a sub-band of band 12; band 9 is a sub-band of band 3; bands 5, 6, 18, 19 are sub-bands of band 26. Phones that support band 3 will also support band 9, and phones that support band 12 also support band 17.

The most important bands are:

On FDD-LTE:

  • Band 1: 2100 MHz (IMT)
  • Band 2: 1900 MHz (PCS)
  • Band 3: 1800 MHz (DCS)
  • Band 4: 1700 MHz (AWS)
  • Band 5: 850 MHz (CLR)
  • Band 7: 2600 MHz (IMT-E)
  • Band 8: 900 MHz (E-GSM)
  • Bands 12,13,14,17: 700 MHz (USMH, LSMH) *
  • Band 20: 800 MHz (EUDD)
  • Band 28: 700 MHz (APT)*

* = Be aware that 700 MHz on Bands 12,13,14,17 used mostly in the US and Canada is not compatible with 700 MHz on Band 28 used or going to be used in Australia, Asia, Europe and Latin America. That's why for LTE often the Bands are mentioned instead of the MHz.

On TDD-LTE:

  • Band 38: 2600 MHz (IMT-E)
  • Band 40: 2300 MHz
  • Band 41: 2500 MHz
  • Band 42: 3500 MHz
  • Band 44: 700 Mhz (APT)

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