Verizon Wireless' (NYSE:VZ) version of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 5 is being sold GSM-unlocked, meaning it can easily be switched to the mobile network operated by the nation's second-largest mobile operator, AT&T (NYSE:T), via the insertion of a compatible SIM card.
The iPhone 5
Verizon, the largest U.S. mobile operator by subscribers has apparently opted to ship all of its iPhone 5 smartphones GSM-unlocked, with representatives confirming as much to PC Mag and CNET. Making the device work on AT&T's HSPA+ network involves cutting down a standard AT&T SIM card or getting a nano SIM from AT&T that will fit directly into the phone's SIM slot.
The operation should be the same for a user who wants to get a Verizon iPhone 5 to work on T-Mobile USA's 1900 MHz GSM or HSPA+ networks. T-Mobile last week unveiled HSPA+ service on its 1900 MHz PCS spectrum in Las Vegas, the first full market where it has refarmed the 1900 MHz frequencies it was using solely for GSM to open them up for HSPA+ service. T-Mobile is the only national U.S. mobile operator that is not selling the iPhone 5.
An AT&T customer could be tempted to buy a Verizon iPhone 5 in order to gain more LTE international roaming possibilities. But no U.S. LTE operators have apparently signed any LTE roaming agreements, making the value of LTE roaming capability a moot point at this time.
Technically, Verizon's iPhone 5 permits global LTE roaming, while AT&T's defaults to 3G once the phone is taken outside of the United States or Canada. That's because Verizon's iPhone 5 supports five LTE bands compared to AT&T's two, noted PC Mag. However, Verizon's version does not support LTE bands used in Canada.
According to Apple, the iPhone 5 GSM model A1428 sold by AT&T supports WCDMA/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA at 850, 900, 1900 and 2100 MHz; GSM/EDGE at 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz and LTE in Bands 4 and 17. According to FCC documents unearthed by ExtremeTech, the AT&T device also supports LTE in the 1900 MHz PCS band and the cellular band at 800/850 MHz. Verizon's CDMA model A1429 supports CDMA EV-DO Rev. A and Rev. B at 800, 1900 and 2100 MHz; WCDMA/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA at 850, 900, 1900 and 2100 MHz; GSM/EDGE at 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz; and LTE Bands 1, 3, 5, 13 and 25.
In addition, the CDMA iPhone 5 sold in the United States by Verizon as well as Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) does not support simultaneous voice and data services. Apple has said it can support in a single radio design simultaneous voice and data on GSM-based 3G and LTE networks but not networks that use CDMA for voice and LTE for data.
Special Report: Apple's iPhone 5: Complete coverage
T-Mobile launches HSPA+ on 1900 MHz spectrum in Las Vegas
Apple's iPhone 5 launch draws crowds, but will LTE networks hold up?
Apple sells 2M pre-ordered iPhone 5s in 24 hours
Verizon, Sprint won't support simultaneous voice/data in iPhone 5
iPhone 5 will be plagued by LTE roaming issues