The Missing LTE on the Nexus 4

A common misconception has spiraled out of control

This is going to be a short rant. But it needs to be clarified. A lot is being said today about the lack of LTE on the new Nexus 4. Most of it is untrue.

The rumor goes as follows: "Google had to drop LTE from the Nexus, because otherwise Evil Carriers had control over the device." Similar rumors include "The LTE radio costs too much for the Nexus 4 to have one, and still hit the $300 price".

This rumor is completly false. And theres some simple evidence to prove it.

Qualcomm sells a radio. It does HSPA+ on most common bands, including full 3G/"4G" access, on AT&T, T-Mobile, International (UK) carriers and Canadian AWS carriers (Wind, Mobilicity, ect.). This radio *also* does LTE, on AT&T, T-Mobile, MetroPCS, and other carriers.

This isn't a odd, unusual, expensive, or rare part. It's shipped in dozens of phones, by many different manufacturers, including the Galaxy S2 Skyrocket (ATT), the Motorola Atrix HD (ATT), and the Galaxy Note 2 (TMO).

More important than that, it's unlocked. It can handle SIM cards from almost any service, including *all GSM providers in the US*, and work on LTE for any that offer it.

This is not a new radio. It's been mass produced and shipped in lots of devices for more than 11 months now.

In short: there is absolutely nothing preventing Google from selling unlocked LTE devices.

Now, this isn't a complete cure-all. You still can't sell a truly unlocked CDMA device, so support on Verizon and Sprint isn't likely, since they both run proprietary artificially-constrained CDMA networks. But there's absolutely nothing preventing Google from selling an unlocked GSM/LTE device, and the missing Verizon/Sprint support shouldn't bother anyone (since none of their unlocked devices have ever supported CDMA networks before.)

I'm sure Google has a reason for not shipping an LTE device. But it's not a technical issue, its not a carrier / unlocking issue, and it's not a price issue.

So, when The Verge writes "AT&T's fledgling LTE network runs on different frequencies ... so Google would have to build a custom phone for just 77 markets in the US", that's simply not true. Google could build in support for AT&T, T-Mobile, International HSPA+ and Canadian providers HSPA+ and LTE on a single model device. We know this because multiple other manufacturers already have.

(Note: I love The Verge. They're awesome folks, create great content, and I highly respect them and their work. But The Verge writers are still human, and sometimes, humans make mistakes).