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There is Future Nexus Hope: Verizon’s LTE SIM FAQ Talks of Activating “Any 4G LTE Device” Not Purchased Through Them


Yesterday’s biggest topic was the report that pegged Google as opening up the “Nexus” or lead device game to multiple manufacturers at a time. The plan, according to reports, is to have up to 5 devices (both tablets and phones) ready for the launch of Jelly Bean around Thanksgiving. When ready, they would sell these devices as “unlocked” directly to consumers through the Google Play store, similarly to what they are doing with the Galaxy Nexus today.

As soon as that report surfaced though, people started asking questions. The most important was probably, “Will Verizon ever see another Nexus?” Since all currently available unlocked devices run on GSM networks and Big Red uses CDMA, it’s a fair question. However, we brought up the idea that LTE is another animal altogether since we are seeing global LTE networks rollout that all use SIM cards for activation. Theoretically, you could buy another LTE device from another carrier and then drop in a Verizon LTE card and have data service, assuming it ran on the same 700MHz band and frequency. Again, theoretically

Thanks to a reader who pointed out the quote that is embedded above, it looks like VZW is actually willing to let this happen. Pulled straight from their 4G SIM support docs page, you can see that “Yes” it is possible to activate a 4G LTE device not purchased from Verizon. However, they claim that it has to be “certified” by them. So what does that mean? Your guess is as good as anyone’s. What we do know is that Verizon has already said that AT&T LTE phones, while running on the 700MHz band, actually run at a different frequency than their phones, so you couldn’t bring one over and activate it. Hold off on that AT&T One X purchase for a minute.

As far as future Nexus devices go, you have to expect that some (if not all) of this winter’s batch will have LTE chips inside. If those fit Verizon’s needs or not will be the question with a million dollar answer. In the mean time, we’ll see if Verizon will help clarify what it means to be “certified” for their network.

*Note – As a handful of readers pointed out in the comments, Verizon still uses CDMA for voice, so until we get VoLTE (voice over LTE), your phone wouldn’t have the ability to place calls. Well, you could use Skype or some other data-centric voice service, but that’s not optimal. It’s almost like this 4G SIM FAQ is Verizon’s way of preparing for the future.

Via:  Verizon Support

Cheers Kris!

  • Rob Becker

    “Most open network” = Biggest lie ever.

  • sc4fpse

    Certified = Months of trials and testing on our network. Oh, you have an unlocked LTE device? That’s nice. Wasn’t tested by us? No chance. Oh, you have one of our phones that you bought from Best Buy? Well come on in!

  • kazelement

    just use google voice haha.

  • AnotherAndroidKid

    Does anyone know of a site that will let me find the LTE frequency range of carriers in each country?

    I am really wanting to find an LTE phone that I can pop local sims in wherever I go.

    Along this point, is the LTE sim slot in the VZ Gnex locked to that card?

  • MrMadcow
  • RedPandaAlex

    There are GSM radios that operate on multiple bands. Hopefully the next generation of LTE radios will operate on multiple bands too.

    I look forward to the day where we have four LTE networks and we can all buy our unlocked phones and bring them whereever we want and pay less on our monthly bill because we bought an unlocked phone. And I think that day is coming. But you might go through a couple more two-year contracts first.

    • BrianWenger

      I look forward to that too. But I’m sure the Prime Evils (carriers) don’t.

  • marcusmaximus04

    As a handful of readers pointed out in the comments, Verizon still uses CDMA for voice, so until we get VoLTE (voice over LTE), your phone wouldn’t have the ability to place calls. Well, you could use Skype or some other data-centric voice service, but that’s not optimal. ”

    Unless… if Google REALLY decides to screw over the carriers and releases the next Nexus devices with access to the free domestic calling we get now via gmail/voice, and then launches a verizon nexus that’s “data only” and just uses data for all voice calls.

    • Keep in mind that 4G isn’t available everywhere — a LTE only phone on Verizon may mean no services in many places. Now, wouldn’t it be nice for the Google Phone to have dual-SIM. One for Verizon LTE when available. But when VZW’s 4G network isn’t around, we can fall back to a prepaid T-Mobile SIM … to back T-Mobile doesn’t have pay-as-you go data.

  • Just to reiterate, until VoTLE, this means jack squat 🙁

  • Clay S.

    “certified verizon wireless device” still means it has to be a phone launched by them. “not purchased at verizon” is corporate speak for bought a vzw phone at a third party, like best buy or something. still have to be authed to get on 3g.

    • Livin2bFree

      Incorrect, i’ve owned many devices threw contacts I have that were NEVER even released to the public and I activated them just fine on VZW’s network. Heck some of the devices did not even have the ESN/MEID in the VZW database. I called in requesting it to be added and approx 5-7 working days later I get a call telling me all is good to go to activate.

  • thats not really hope, thats just allowing me to buy my Nexus from Costco.

    • Josh Groff

      Or Swappa, Ebay, etc.

  • moelsen8

    they’re probably referring to authorized retailers of verizon phones… “including devices not purchased directly from Verizon Wireless”

    come on, it’s big red. they want to stick it to you any way they can.

  • Isn’t that legally required as part of the agreement made when they bought the LTE frequency band?

    • Lou

      Pretty much, Jeff. Verizon’s LTE network is built primarily over their 700 MHz C Block license, acquired in the 2008 auction of 700 MHz frequencies. There were special “open access” conditions placed on this frequency block that requires Verizon to allow any compatible device onto the network, once certified. If it came out that Verizon was being overly abusive with its certification standards, one might expect the FCC to step in.

  • Florynce

    This doesn’t mean phones unfortunately. This is referring to tablets like the iPad. Sorry to be a dream crusher.

    • It’s all incremental. Verizon probably wouldn’t mind getting out of the cell phone business. Right now, they make a lot of money off of contracts, but they have a lot of liability from subsidies. If they could ditch selling cell phones entirely, they could probably make a lot of returns just on month-to-month plans.

      I think they’re experimenting with this idea with tablets. If their margins are high enough, then they’ll push for it with phones. Gradually you’ll start seeing more LTE phones show up on Google Play and Amazon Wireless, and you’ll start seeing Verizon stop selling so many LTE devices in the store.

      Can’t see that happening? Well, just look at how Verizon has phased out feature phones and worse. It’s pretty easy for them to massage their inventory until you basically have to go elsewhere. Heck — just look at AT&T. You can pay a subsidized fortune for a phone in an AT&T store, or you can walk across the street and get the phone for practically free from Best Buy. There are lots of ways to change the behavior of phone buyers subtly without saying explicitly “stop buying phones from us.”

  • The certified part is probably covering their asses from devices they haven’t tested on their network to guarantee compatibility and/or support.

  • zepfloyd

    This is a bit misleading. The device might initially activate, but the 3G CDMA network still must register a CDMA ID for the voice network. So you would still need a true CDMA device, once we reach VoLTE, then it’s different.

    • It’s like their own preparation for the future. So again, we’re looking at end of 2013 before this can happen heh.

      • Iny

        Perfect, my contract with Verizon will be up at that time 😛

      • zepfloyd

        Entirely agree. Just wanted to stem expectations a little 🙂

        Now if there were some GSM, octaband LTE device that happened to use 700 Block C, could you use it for data only, my guess is yes. This statement could also be forward looking to the next iPhone sold by Apple directly, and not VZ, but clearly none of us care.

      • Just sayin

        Even when they move to voice over LTE, they’ll need that CDMA network as fallback. It will be further out than 2013.

      • MrMadcow
      • rockstar323

        I was the one that sent the tip in. I found the article I read a few years back about Verizon allowing third party devices on their network.
        http://gizmodo.com/369596/verizon-open-development-conference-liveIt's from 2008 so it was further back than I thought.

        It’s about the Verizon Open Development Initiative. The link on the Gizmodo page doesn’t work anymore so here is a link directly to the Verizon page: http://opennetwork.verizonwireless.com/aboutOpenDev.aspx#overview

        Unless I’m missing something Google should be able to submit a device to be certified and then sell it through the playstore. It also states in the FAQ that Verizon is not responsible for tech support on the device.

        If there is any question on whether they will allow phones: http://opennetwork.verizonwireless.com/deviceModuleDetails.aspx?showcase=devices&deviceId=334

        • Good if verizon is not responsible for the tech support then they can’t complain that they need to charge extra fees because of it.

          • rockstar323

            Oh they would still charge you the same as they have been but I would definitely buy an unlocked Nexus through the Playstore if they have a Verizon compatible one. The only problem is you’re still paying the Verizon premium for service and don’t get the “benefit” of subsidized phone pricing.

  • bakdroid

    One major problem, VZW will not have VoLTE running by Nov. Last heard, they are talking about starting to turn it on at the END of 2013 or beginning of 2014. That would mean you would have a phone that can’t make phone calls. Oh wait, those that have the GNex already have that…. 😀

  • Michael Forte

    Certified by them probably means a Verizon logo on the phone somewhere. When they say bought from another source, they probably mean a current Verizon phone, just not bought directly from them.

    • Iny

      That’s exactly what I was thinking.

      • I agree they are just saying agents will still exist. Best Buy falls completely into this realm, I really with that AT7T and VZW would have picked the same frequency or that phone manufacturers are going to make phones that ride them all. The sim should tell the LTE Radio what frequency it needs to ride at. Maybe then we will see some real competition with pricing plans since a customer can come and go with devices.

    • Spoken Word™

      I will point this out here as I have elsewhere, that statement isn’t what certain people are trying to make it out to be. Verizon is merely stating that you can buy your phone from whoever you want. Verizon has made it perfectly clear that no phone that they don’t carry/certify will be allowed on their system. As both CDMA/LTE devices have to go through Verizons certification, radio software, any Nexus device on Verizon would still be subject to having it’s updates tested forever before actually being pushed to the device.

  • Which provider has the same LTE network as Verizon though? Or will phones be released that can utlize any LTE network?

  • Michael_NM

    …certified by Verizon Wireless… That’s the hook.

  • YankInDaSouth

    Woo Hoo!! This is exciting news … until we pull the strings attached :-

  • wow. Verizon making a smart move rather than being a bunch of chotches?

    Is this real life?

    • Fine print at the bottom of the page

      ***For your LTE phone to be certified on Verizons LTE Network you must sign over the rights to all future children. They will be raised by Verizon to manage towers in your area.