Chipset maker Qualcomm today announced its plans for a universal LTE chip that would be perfect for a truly 4G iPhone. Apple’s next iPhone is rumored to feature 4G LTE networking, and Qualcomm’s upcoming chip would allow the device to operate on AT&T and Verizon’s 700 MHz 4G LTE bands. Phones haven’t been able to support multiple blocks of spectrum on the 700 MHz band, but Qualcomm’s upcoming chip would allow a smartphone to take full advantage of LTE speeds on multiple carriers.
While AT&T and Verizon both have 700MHz LTE networks, they use different blocks of spectrum, causing interoperability between devices. A LTE smartphone made for Verizon can’t use LTE on AT&T, and vice versa. Qualcomm would be the first to solve that interoperability problem. The chip supports a total of 7 frequency bands: three below 1GHz, three above, and one ultra-high 2.5 GHz+ frequency.
The WTR1605L chip will be built on a 28nm process, which means low power consumption (something Apple cares very much about). Qualcomm says the chips will go out in July and arrive in new phones by the end of the year. Coincidentally, Apple’s next iPhone is expected to drop in the November-October timeframe.
Apple calls the iPhone 4S a “World Phone” because it can operate on GSM/CDMA networks on 2G and 3G spectrum bands. Carriers are starting to label HSPA+ bands as “4G” (AT&T calling the current iPhone “4G” already, for example), but true LTE networks are vastly different and offer much faster bandwidth speeds. If Apple uses Qualcomm’s upcoming chip in the next iPhone, the device would be able to use both Verizon and AT&T’s real LTE networks. Other U.S. carriers, like Sprint and T-Mobile, as well as international networks would likely need different chipset architecture for LTE. Unfortunately, the logistics of creating a LTE phone that works domestically and globally are very, very daunting.