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Reference guide to US carrier bands and networks

Reference guide to US carrier bands and networks

Reference guide to US carrier bands and networks

In the market for a new smartphone? Have you considered purchasing something unlocked instead of dealing with a service provider? Did you know you could even do such a thing? Indeed, it’s not unlike buying a computer and then picking out the internet provider. Many of today’s top phones can be purchased unlocked and paired with a wireless carrier.

Unfortunately, with multiple service providers and technologies at play in the United States, it’s not quite as simple as it sounds. Will your next phone work with Verizon? Does it support 4G LTE or are you limited to 3G speeds?

Whether you are looking to go with a tier-one carrier, a prepaid operator, or MVNO, it pays to do a quick bit of research before plunking down some cash. The last thing you want is to invest in a phone that doesn’t work in your area or deliver the data speeds you expect.

We’ve put together the following reference to help you quickly identify whether that unlocked phone will work for you. To be fair, this isn’t the be-all-end-all to address every little instance, but it’s plenty enough to get you headed in the right direction.

Do note that that just because a band is or isn’t listed doesn’t mean it’s 100% the case in your area. For instance, AT&T opts to use band 5 in places where there is no band 17 coverage. Results vary by location, but what you see below is a generality that works in most cases.

Verizon

  • Network Technology: CDMA
  • Notable MVNO Partners: Net10 Wireless, Straight Talk, TracFone
  • 3G Bands: 0, 1
  • 3G Frequencies (MHz): 850, 1900
  • 4G LTE Bands: 2, 4, 13
  • 4G LTE Frequencies (MHz): 700c, 1700f, 1900

AT&T

  • Network Technology: GSM, HSPA+, UMTS
  • Notable MVNO Partners: Net10 Wireless, Consumer Cellular, Cricket Wireless, TracFone
  • 3G Bands: 2, 5
  • 3G Frequencies: 850, 1900
  • 4G LTE Bands: 2, 4, 12, 17
  • 4G LTE Frequencies: 700bc, 1700 abcde, 1900

T-Mobile

  • Network Technology: GSM, HSPA+, UMTS
  • Notable MVNO Partners: Consumer Cellular, MetroPCS, Project Fi, Republic Wireless, Ting
  • 3G Bands: 2, 4
  • 3G Frequencies: 1900, 1700, 2100
  • 4G LTE Bands: 2, 4, 12
  • 4G LTE Frequencies: 700a, 1700def, 1900

Sprint

  • Network Technology: CDMA
  • Notable MVNO Partners: Boost Mobile, Project Fi, Straight Talk, Ting, Virgin Mobile
  • 3G Bands: 1, 10
  • 3G Frequencies: 800, 1900
  • 4G LTE Bands: 25, 26, 41
  • 4G LTE Frequencies: 850, 1900g, 2500

US Cellular

  • Network Technology: CDMA
  • Notable MVNO Partners: Net 10 Wireless, Project Fi, TracFone
  • 3G Bands: 0, 1
  • 3G Frequencies: 850, 1900
  • 4G LTE Bands: 5, 12
  • 4G LTE Frequencies: 700ab, 850

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