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Report: Verizon, AT&T LTE phones likely incompatible

It's unlikely you'll be able to switch between carriers like you can with GSM carriers, according to a PC Magazine report.

Verizon Wireless said that its 4G LTE smartphones aren't likely to run on AT&T's upcoming 4G LTE network, PC Magazine reports today.

While the two carriers will be using the same underlying technology, called Long-Term Evolution, both will be using different frequencies of spectrum, the radio airwaves necessary for transmitting cellular signals. Verizon Wireless representative Brenda Raney confirmed to PC Mag that its phones will run on different frequencies than what AT&T plans to use when it launches LTE in five cities as planned this summer.

LTE was supposed to bring this promise of a unified technology standard, similar to GSM in Europe, where phones are interchangeable with the slip of a SIM card. But the sheer amount of frequencies available to LTE means that you will likely still be locked into your carrier and would need a new phone to switch.

That's particularly the case with the first few waves of phones that run on two different technology standards--LTE and CDMA for Verizon and LTE and GSM for AT&T.

Complicating it further is the fact that MetroPCS's LTE network also runs at a different frequency, although it is similar to what Leap Wireless would use with its future LTE network.

Competitively, the carriers likely want to be on different frequencies. Incompatible phones means their customers are locked into their service. If they want to switch, they'll have to spend money on a new phone.

Which isn't much different from today.