Understanding Frequency Bands and Why Networks Use Them Differently

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The frequency range used for cellular communication is partitioned into distinct bands. These bands are regulated and assigned to cellular companies by government agencies.

In the United States, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is responsible for granting licenses for specific bands to cellular service providers.  These cellular service providers are then granted exclusive rights to operate within those bands in designated areas of the country.

While the government is dedicated to safeguarding the nation against cyberattacks and cybercriminals, another form of cybercrime persists – radio frequency (RF) espionage.

Hackers can easily compromise mobile, wireless, and IoT devices as they all operate within the radio frequency (RF) spectrum. 

In this article, discover the different cellphone carrier frequency bands in the USA and how they affect your network experience. 

Frequency Bands: What are They? 

Frequency refers to the number of sound waves that occur per second. Faster wave movement corresponds to higher frequencies and vice versa. 

Frequency bands are a range of frequencies assigned to a specific type of radio or network technology. Each band is split into multiple channels linked to a tower that sends signals to mobile devices and vice versa. 

Frequency bands allow millions of users to transmit data and internet connection simultaneously. The FCC and National Telecommunications and Information Administration regulate the frequency spectrum and allocate it to network carriers for licensing rights. 

Top Mobile Network Companies and Their Frequency Bands

Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile’s postpaid and prepaid phone numbers primarily operate on different frequency bands in the United States. There are more than 5.5 billion phone number users across the world. Understanding the role of frequency bands in communication can affect your experience. 

To determine if you can use your phone on a particular network, it is essential to determine which 3G, 4G LTE, and 5G bands and frequencies are offered by these carriers. 

The table below provides information on these signals, and identifying the ones that your device supports is crucial.

Carrier3G Network4G/ LTE Frequency Band5G Frequency Band
AT&TGSM/UMTS/HSPA+, 850 MHz (Band 5) and 1900 MHz (Band 2)700 MHz (Bands 12/17/29) 700 MH (Band 14) 850 MHz (Band 5), 1900 MHz (Band 2) 1700 MHz /2100 MHz (Bands 4/66) 2300 MHz (Band 30)850 MHz (Band n5) 3.4 GHz (Band n2) 3.7 GHz (Band n77) 24 GHz (Band n258) 39 GHz (Band n260)
Verizon WirelessCDMA, 850 MHz (Band 0) 1900 MHz (Band 1)700 MHz (Band 13) 850 MHz (Band 5) 1700/2100 MHz (Bands 4/66) 1900 MHz (Band 2) 3.5 GHz (Band 48) 5.2 GHz (Band 46)850 MHz (Band n5) 1700/2100 MHz (Band n66) 1900 MHz (Band n2) 3.7 GHz (Band n77) 28 GHz (Band 261) 39 GHz (Band 260)
T-MobileGSM/UMTS/HSPA+ 1900 MHz (Band 2) 1700/2100 MHz (Band 4)600 MHz (Band 71) 700 MHz (Band 12) 850 MHz (Band 5) 1700/2100 MHz (Bands 4/66) 1900 MHz (Band 2)600 MHz (Band n71) 2.5 GHz (Band n41) 3.4 GHz (Band n2) 3.7 GHz (Band n77) 24 GHz (Band n258) 28 GHz (Band n261) 39 GHz (Band n260) 47 GHz (Band n262)

Network carriers connect to various bands to enhance wireless technology. Modern phones are being built with a wider range of frequencies and bands to support all major 3G, 4G LTE, and 5G networks.

Why Network Carriers Connect to Different Frequency Bands

Cellular carriers need a license from the FCC to use a particular cellular band. When given a license, the carrier is allowed to use a small section of that band. Those small sections are known as channels or blocks. This helps prevent carriers from interfering with each other. 

Different channels are located on different sections of the RF spectrum, some of which have low frequencies and some have high frequencies. 

High frequencies transmit data faster but cannot penetrate obstacles or travel as far, while low frequencies are better at penetrating obstacles but have lower data transmission rates. Lower frequency bands are better for metropolitan and urban areas. 

Carriers seek to gain as many licenses throughout the RF spectrum as possible to have a more reliable connection. 

Phone Compatibility With Network Frequency Bands

To get the most out of your internet experience, your phone should also be compatible with the network’s frequency bands and vice versa. Older phone models, especially around the 2G/3G era, may not be compatible with 4G and 5 G frequencies. 

If you’ve been using an older phone or want to check the compatibility of your carrier’s network bands, here are two ways to do it:

1. Check Your User Manual

Inside of your phone’s package contains the specifications of your phone. Most user manuals often include a list of compatible frequencies you can compare with the table above. 

2. Calling Your Phone’s Customer Service Line

If you don’t have the compatibility list of frequency bands on your phone, you can always rely on their customer service hotline to answer your question. Refer to the user manual for their contact information and note the phone model you’ll use.

Ensuring your phone is compatible with your network’s frequency bands is essential for optimizing your internet experience. It can also help you avoid connectivity issues and ensure a seamless internet experience.

Bottom Line

Frequency bands are a range of frequencies that network carriers use to cater to the growing demand for internet access. With the growing networks o

As 4G LTE and 5G networks are further improved and made commercially available, the internet experience is also getting better.  To make the most of your network experience, be familiar with your phone’s frequency bands compatible with your preferred mobile network. 

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