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Cheat sheet: which 4G LTE bands do AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint use in the USA?

Posted: , posted by Victor H.

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Cheat sheet: which 4G LTE bands do AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint use in the USA?

What are the 4G LTE bands supported by AT&T? Do they differ from the 4G LTE bands that T-Mobile uses? And what about Verizon Wireless massive 4G LTE network and its supported frequencies? And where is Sprint left in the 4G LTE picture?

If you have ever tried to understand what's the deal with 4G LTE band support, you would have inevitably stumbled upon a reality of limitations and restrictions. Truth is that up to this day, most phones only support bands for some carriers, but not all.

We are breaking down the 4G LTE carrier bands for each of the major U.S. carrier (take a look at the table at the bottom of this article), but first, let's say a few words about the state of 4G LTE on all of them.

Carrier4G LTE BandsFrequencies
AT&T2, 4, 5, 171900, 1700 abcde, 700 bc
Verizon Wireless2, 4, 131900, 1700 f, 700 c
T-Mobile2, 4, 12, 66, 71**1900, 1700 def, 700 a, 600
Sprint25, 26, 411900 g, 850, 2500
Europe3, 7, 201800, 2600, 800
China, India40, 412300, 2500
*Main band for each carrier is marked in bold.
**Rolling out in 2017.

AT&T


First, AT&T. The company has rolled out a massive 4G LTE network in the United States with support for bands 2, 4, 5 and 17, but the backbone of it remains band 17 in the 700MHz range, the company's primary band. The remaining bands 2, 4 and 5 are mostly used in areas where AT&T does not have band 17, while in the densely populated metros, AT&T combines spectrum from multiple bands for better coverage. This is the reason why it is important that your phone supports all and not just one of these bands, in order for you to make maximum use of 4G LTE speeds.

Starting in the summer of 2015, AT&T has begun rolling out WCS spectrum in the 2.3GHz frequency range. Those new bands are still only available in limited areas and are considered "capacity layer" on top of AT&T's nationwide 700 MHz coverage. It's worth knowing that only a few phone today support WCS bands: the Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Galaxy Note 5 are two devices that do, but most older phones do not.

Verizon Wireless


Verizon Wireless was the first to arrive to the 4G LTE race and it has also built its nationwide network based on 700 MHz spectrum, but the primary band for Verizon is band 13. Bands 2 and 4 are used to strengthen the signal in the densely populated urban areas. One important thing to note about Verizon Wireless is that many phones are built specifically for the carrier, including its 4G LTE bands. In other words, the common case is that you will not be able to use an AT&T device on Verizon's 4G LTE network.

Sprint


As of February 2016, Sprint is finally allowed to shut down its WiMax network and expectations are that it will flip the switch off by the end of March 2016.

Sprint's 4G LTE network runs on bands 24, 25 and 41 with band 25 in the 1900 MHz range being the carrier's primary frequency. Bands 24 and 41 are used to boost the capacity of the network and its speed.

In Sprint marketing speak, markets that support all three bands are denoted as Sprint Spark compatible.

T-Mobile


Finally, T-Mobile has been the loudest and arguably the fastest growing 4G LTE network, especially in the big cities. 

2017 Update: T-Mobile has won a big 30MHz chunk of spectrum in an auction held this summer. The frequencies that it is now allowed to operate are in the low-band, 600MHz band, and are referred to as 4G LTE band 71. The new band 71 is rolling out to cities in Wyoming, Northwest Oregon, West Texas, Southwest Kansas, the Oklahoma panhandle, Western North Dakota, Maine, Coastal North Carolina, Central Pennsylvania, Central Virginia and Eastern Washington by the end of 2017. This is expected to boost its coverage by 6 million people to a total of 321 million Americans.

Currently, T-Mobile's main band is still band 4 (AWS) in the 1700 MHz range. Band 2 is used in markets where band 4 is not available, but the two are also aggregated for better coverage in markets, where both are available.

Band 12, on the other hand, is where a lot of T-Mobile's growth happens. While at the beginning of the roll-out in late 2014, few phones supported band 12, currently, most popular phones do and the increased penetration of the lower-frequency band makes it preferable.

Europe and China 4G LTE bands, 4G LTE support in phones


While the 700 MHz range in various bands has been the backbone of the U.S. 4G LTE coverage, in Europe and China carriers use different spectrum and bands, so phones from the United States may not work there. In Europe, most carriers base their networks on bands 3 (1800 MHz), 7 (2600 MHz) and 20 (800 MHz).

China, on the other hand, uses a whole different 4G LTE standard - while the Western world has rolled out FDD-LTE networks, China and large parts of Asia use TDD-LTE. The differences between FDD and TDD are purely technical and the main one boils down to the fact that FDD is symmetrical (1:1 upload vs download), while TDD allows variable up / down ratio. The main bands for China are TD bands 40 and 41.

Finally, it's worth noting that these days still only a few phones can truly be considered global: the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus support practically all Western bands in one phone (the full list of supported bands include 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30), the Nexus 5X and 6P are two other phones that support a fairly comprehensive list of bands.

Do not forget that you can always check the supported bands for each phone by simply looking up the specs at PhoneArena.com!

26 Comments
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posted on 02 Feb 2016, 10:27

1. bambamboogy02 (Posts: 665; Member since: 23 Jun 2012)


But you can use alot of VZW Phones on ATT and TMobile. All of thier 4G LTE Devices are GLobally unlocked already, and most new ones carry global bands even supporting UMTS.

posted on 02 Feb 2016, 10:33

2. joeytaylor (Posts: 933; Member since: 28 Feb 2015)


Is that with just newer phones....i was under the impression that my Verizon S5 will not work with AT&T's 4g networks

posted on 02 Feb 2016, 13:05

11. bigdawg23 (Posts: 462; Member since: 25 May 2011)


As an example, I have two Verizon Iphone 6 Plus's. One is on VZW(Work Phone) and AT&T(Personal). My AT&T line works flawless, because of Apples Bands for all LTE Networks, being on most phones.

I also have a Note 4 on VZW. When I insert my AT&T sim card it will not work and lets me know I have another Network SIM.

Now, there is a chance new phones like S6 and Note 5 may be different.

posted on 02 Feb 2016, 13:06 1

12. Planterz (Posts: 2110; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)


It depends on the phone. Some, like the Droid Turbo, were ordered by Verizon for Verizon, and thus won't have some other bands like AT&T's band 17 or T-Mobile's band 12. Others, like Moto X's, Nexus 6, and iPhones will work on any network. Verizon's big enough that they can force proprietary requirements/restrictions on devices they order from the OEMs. Contrast this to T-Mobile/AT&T, where many popular high-end devices are physically identical and share proprietary bands because it's cheaper to produce 2 identical models than separate specific ones. Again, it depends on the individual device.

posted on 02 Feb 2016, 13:44

15. tacarat (Posts: 805; Member since: 22 Apr 2013)


I think some take a bit more tinkering than others. I couldn't help one guy with a HTC One Max. Most of the time updating the APNs are all that's needed. A quick google search should turn up what you need. You might only get EDGE speeds, though. If all else fails, go for the more basic WAP settings. YMMV.

posted on 02 Feb 2016, 13:59 1

16. bambamboogy02 (Posts: 665; Member since: 23 Jun 2012)


Have you changed the radio settings? AKA Network Mode?
Change it from LTE/CDMA to Global, or change it to LTE/GSM/UMTS

posted on 03 Feb 2016, 10:11

19. JunitoNH (Posts: 1936; Member since: 15 Feb 2012)


I can tell you this. I have the original Moto X, which I have used with AT&T and now with Cricket. The only caveat with Verizon phones, as you would expect, there's no LTE support. However, Hspa is supported, and I'm getting speeds of 5M down and 3 up. What I'm saying, they make great backup, or let me save some money, and buy what I want devices. On another note I noticed 1+1=X :) has the "17" band missing why not buying.

posted on 02 Feb 2016, 10:42 1

5. abeauchamp (Posts: 27; Member since: 27 Feb 2012)


Yes, I agree with you. I have multiple Verizon Phone and when I go out of the country just change sim card and my phone work in the country fine without any problem.

posted on 02 Feb 2016, 10:36 1

3. jellmoo (Posts: 2117; Member since: 31 Oct 2011)


Canada is almost all band 4 (this is the coast to coast band) with two of our big three providers (Rogers and Bell) providing LTE-A on band 7 in a small amount of places (basically just Toronto and Vancouver).

posted on 02 Feb 2016, 11:47

9. Moose (Posts: 418; Member since: 05 Jan 2015)


I have band 7 on Fido in London, Ontario - great for trying out Chinese phones because most of them have band 7 for LTE.

posted on 24 Feb 2016, 12:04

21. niteiknight (Posts: 60; Member since: 02 Aug 2012)


The big three are just now starting to deploy the 700MHz spectrum they have, which should help greatly with their coverage. They're even using the same band numbers that we do in the States. Rogers is using bands 12 & 17, while Bell and Telus (with their shared network) seem to use either 12, 13, or 17 depending on the area.

Of course it doesn't help that this information isn't easy to find. Wikipedia's sources are conflicting, and the carriers themselves aren't very helpful either.

posted on 02 Feb 2016, 10:39

4. newuser1 (Posts: 276; Member since: 10 Dec 2010)


correction: china Unicom, china telecom, use FDD, china mobile mainly use TDD.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_LTE_networks#Asia

posted on 02 Feb 2016, 11:06

6. twalsh3 (Posts: 6; Member since: 15 Mar 2010)


willmyphonework website has been a pretty helpful website to show which phones will work on what networks and what bands and sped they will support, ie: 2g, 3g, 4g.

posted on 02 Feb 2016, 11:13 1

7. kg4icg (Posts: 78; Member since: 18 May 2008)


Someone on PhoneArena failed to look at Sprints band 41 LTE which is LTE-TDD or should I say LTE-Advanced and that Spring's band 41 covers over 120mhz of spectrum, and that Sprint has roaming agreement in China on band 41. Some people actually need to do some research.

posted on 02 Feb 2016, 11:21

8. sebstin (Posts: 143; Member since: 03 Dec 2015)


Why so much confusion on these phones and frequencies?.. Why cant all frequeny bands included in all phones so that globally it can be used?..

posted on 02 Feb 2016, 12:42

10. joeytaylor (Posts: 933; Member since: 28 Feb 2015)


I think the carriers what you to buy their phones....or ateast some do

posted on 02 Feb 2016, 13:07

13. bigdawg23 (Posts: 462; Member since: 25 May 2011)


While everyone hates Apple, phones beginning with iPhone 6/6Plus have almost all bands.

posted on 02 Feb 2016, 13:19 1

14. Planterz (Posts: 2110; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)


Some phones do. Moto X's, Nexuses, iPhones. Verizon's (postpaid) phones are unlocked, but they often don't have other bands, and unlocked phones apart from the above mentioned won't work on their network. Same goes for Sprint, except that it's extremely unlikely you'll be able to use a Sprint phone on another network (except, again, for those certain ones).

It's all about control.

posted on 02 Feb 2016, 20:25

17. My1cent (Posts: 370; Member since: 30 Jan 2014)


You can't just put anything into any chip or parts anymore. There're fees for everything, hence cheaper for lesser!

posted on 03 Feb 2016, 08:33

18. tokuzumi (Posts: 1211; Member since: 27 Aug 2009)


I like how Sprint makes it hard on everyone, and has unique LTE bands from the other carriers. All other US carriers have band 2 and 4 in common. Notice Europe and China pretty much settled on a standard, whereas the US is all over the place.

posted on 24 Feb 2016, 11:31 1

20. niteiknight (Posts: 60; Member since: 02 Aug 2012)


This article has a bunch of errors. Do people even proofread anymore?

AT&T: The author neglected to mention what band number AT&T's 2.3GHz WCS spectrum is (it's band 30, by the way). He says that bands 2, 4, and 5 are mostly used in areas where they don't have band 17, which is completely untrue. Only band 5 is used in areas without band 17, while 2 and 4 are for capacity + carrier aggregation.

Sprint: This one's the worst offender. Band 24? Seriously? The author lists it correctly in the table while goofing it up TWICE in the describing paragraph. Also, band 26 isn't to boost speed and capacity, it's to boost coverage. (band 24 is 1600MHz L-band spectrum that LightSquared currently holds)

posted on 25 Apr 2016, 09:20

22. Massipt (Posts: 1; Member since: 25 Apr 2016)


Hi, I`m visiting US, by the way , I want to buy an iphone 6s because it`s less expensive than in my country Portugal. Which version do you suggest for me to avoid all problem regarding 4G LTE bands and have better cover in my home country?
thank you very much in advance.

posted on 14 Jun 2016, 09:40

23. Senthilg (Posts: 46; Member since: 07 Apr 2016)


You can go to any Apple store and ask for an unlocked Iphone 6S. There is only one version of unlocked Iphone that Apple sells which will work across most of the countries

posted on 25 Jul 2016, 17:04

24. rtaheri (Posts: 1; Member since: 25 Jul 2016)


Does a SIM card stay tied to the bands/frequencies of the carrier that sold it to me? I ask because when I travel to Europe, and add a roaming plan from Verizon to my iPhone 6 or iPad Mini 4, they work just fine, but I cannot get them to work in 4G LTE. But if I buy a local SIM card, the devices display the LTE icon. Reading this post (thanks, Victor!), I think I can see why. If the Verizon SIM card is tied to one of the 4 Verizon bands, then it cannot do LTE in Europe even though the iPad itself is capable of using the European LTE bands. Is that correct?

Thanks,
Reza

posted on 31 Aug 2017, 10:19

26. Victor.H (Posts: 809; Member since: 27 May 2011)


No, it's the phone that supports certain LTE bands, not the SIM card.

posted on 23 May 2017, 21:02 1

25. Trevnerdio (Posts: 1; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)


Band 2 isn't just deployed where Band 4 is absent on T-Mobile, they're utilizing carrier aggregation to combine the 2 (or even 3) frequencies into "1" to boost download speeds and capacities.

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