Mobilicity Wiki:[Guide] Will your phone work on Mobilicity

This guide is divided into 7 parts:

1. Summary/Short Verdict
2. What are frequency bands? Which band does Mobilicity use?
3. What are are 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G? What is GSM, EDGE, WCDMA, UMTS, HSPA, LTE, etc.?
4. Do any phones from Bell/Telus/Rogers phones work on Mobilicity? What is "unlocking", then?
5. Why is everybody talking about the 700Mhz auction? Why is it important?
6. Why cant Mobilicity and Wind get the same frequency as others?

Along the way, we will also explain the meanings of some common acronyms such as HSPA, AWS, PCS, LTE, etc.


1. Summary/Short Verdict:
  • iPhone WILL NOT WORK ON MOBILICITY period. This applies to ANY AND ALL iPHONES including iPhone 3G, 3GS, 4, 4S.
  • Phones bought from Rogers/Bell/Telus/AT&T won't work, but there are a few exceptions which I will go over.
  • Any 3G (or "4G" - explained later) phone from T-Mobile USA (but not Europe) or Cincinnati Bell will work on Mobilicity.
  • Any phone from Wind or Videotron will also work on Mobilicity.
  • 3G 2100 (IMT) is NOT the same as 3G 1700 (AWS)!!! The phone MUST support the 1700Mhz band in order to work on Mobilicity. If you do not see 1700, do not bother asking. The 2100MHz band is NOT used anywhere in North America.



2. What are frequency bands? Which band does Mobilicity use?

Frequency is the number of cycles (oscillations) which a radio wave completes per second. UMTS/HSPA (a.k.a. "3G GSM") phones require a 5Mhz "band" (frequency range) in order to transmit or receive a signal. Governments in different parts of the world divide radio frequencies differently (between cellular services, TV broadcasts, etc.). Some of the common frequency bands available for 3G cellular are use around the world are tabulated below:

Name Also known as Downlink Frequency Range (Base station to Phone) Uplink Frequency Range (Phone to Base station) Regions
IMT (Band I) UMTS/HSPA 2100 21102170MHz 19201980MHz Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, Brazil. NOT USED IN NORTH AMERICA.
PCS (Band II) UMTS/HSPA 1900 18501910MHz 19301990MHz USA (AT&T), Canada (Rogers, Bell, Telus), Venezuela, Mexico
AWS (Band IV) UMTS/HSPA 1700 17101755MHz 21102155MHz USA (T-Mobile, Cincinnati Bell), Canada (Wind Mobile, Mobilicity, Videotron), Chile
CLR (Band V) UMTS/HSPA 850 824849MHz 869894MHz USA (AT&T), Canada (Rogers, Bell, Telus), Australia, and some others
****Note that AWS is sometimes wrongly referred to as "1700/2100", since the uplink frequency is in the 2100MHz range. But please note that UMTS 2100 (IMT) and UMTS 1700 (AWS) are NOT compatible with each other. As can be seen in the table, they use different frequency bands for uplink and downlink.

In order for a phone to work on Mobilicity, it MUST explicitly specify that it supports AWS, UMTS 1700, HSPA 1700, or UMTS Band IV. For our purposes here (determining compatibility with Mobilicity), these terms are all equivalent.


An analogy: HSPA basically means "high speed internet". Think of Mobilicity and Telus/Bell/Rogers etc as Internet Service Providers, providing you this "HSPA" (or high speed internet). Now, like we have DSL and Cable, we can say that Mobilicty/Wind/T-Mobile are "Cable" and Bell/Rogers/Telus/At&T are "DSL". Yes - they BOTH give you "HSPA/High Speed Internet", but the technology is different! With Mobilicity, you need a "cable modem", with Robellus, you need a "DSL Modem". In layman terms, this is why, mobilicity and robelus phones arent compatible. This "cable" which mobilicity uses is called "AWS" and the "DSL" that robelus uses is called "CLR/PCS".


(Note that any frequency can be used for any cellular standard. Mobilicity uses AWS for HSPA, "Robellus" uses AWS for LTE, and MetroPCS (in the USA) uses AWS for CDMA2000. This is like saying that we can use a phone line for dial up, isdn or DSL. We can use "AWS" for HSPA, LTE or CDMA.)


3. What are are 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G? What is GSM, EDGE, WCDMA, UMTS, HSPA, LTE, etc.?

1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G are classifications for the different standards which have emerged throughout the history of cellular communications. The following is a list of the most distinguishing feature of each generation:
  • 1G: Analog
  • 2G: Digital
  • 3G: Minimum data speeds of 384Kbps
  • 4G: Minimum data speeds of 100Mbps for mobile applications (i.e. phones/tablets) or 1000Mbps for stationary applications (i.e. home Internet)


AMPS (Advanced Mobile Phone System) was one of the earliest cellular standards (1G), and was based on analog communications. It was the most popular 1G standard, but there were MANY other incompatible standards. This created a lot of frustration due to the inability to roam and the high handset costs (since manufacturers had to make a different model for each standard).

When the need arose to transition to a new digital standard, the Europeans joined together to develop a universal standard in order to avoid the headache of the 1G days. This 2G standard is known to us as GSM (Global Standard for Mobile Communications). GSM also introduced SIM cards, which we still use today.

Unfortunately, in North America, a competing 2G standard known as IS-95 arose. This is often wrongly referred to as CDMA, since IS-95 uses CDMA as a channel access mechanism. A channel access mechanism is the method used by a base station to serve multiple users. In contrast, GSM uses a hybrid TDMA/FDMA mechanism.

The GSM standard gained data abilities through GPRS, and was further improved with EDGE (which barely meets the requirements of 3G, but is usually classified as "2.5G"). The GSM "family" started a group called 3GPP, which developed the new 3G WCDMA standard, which uses the CDMA channel access mechanism. WCDMA (384Kbps) later evolved to UMTS, HSPA (7.2Mbps), HSPA+ (21Mbps), and now DC-HSPA (48Mbps). Technically these are all 3G standards, but most operators have labeled their HSPA networks as "3.5G", and many operators are now WRONGLY referring to their HSPA+ and DC-HSPA networks as "4G".

On the other hand, the IS-95 "family" formed the 3GPP2 group and developed the 3G standards CDMA2000 and later EV-DO (used by Verizon, and Bell/Telus). There has been no progress since. EV-DO is significantly slower than the HSPA family of standards.

LTE (developed by 3GPP - the "GSM family") and WiMax are the two independent standards which are fighting to succeed the current 3G standards. LTE and WiMax both ditch CDMA in favour of OFDMA, a much more flexible channel access mechanism. LTE appears to have almost won the war - no doubt due to the fact that it is a continuation of the GSM upgrade path. LTE and WiMax do not fully satisfy the requirements for 4G (although they come very close), but they will be easily upgradeable (probably entirely through software) to LTE-Advanced and WiMax 2, which exceed 4G requirements.

In response to operator misuse of the term 4G, the International Telecommunications Union has retreated from their original definition of 4G. They are now accepting LTE and WiMax as 4G (since they can be easily upgraded to LTE-A and WiMax 2), and also "some evolved forms of HSPA" (pretty ambiguous) as 4G.


4. So why don't the Bell/Telus/Rogers phones work on Mobilicity? What is "unlocking", then?

Bell/Telus/Rogers phones are locked to the respective company you bought it from. Unlocking lets the phone ACCEPT other SIM cards. However, the antennas in most of these phones are designed for the PCS and CLR bands, and not AWS. Hence, even if unlocked, they WON'T work with Mobilicity. However, the following phones are known to have multi-band antennas which are compatible with AWS, PCS, and CLR and can therefore work on Mobilicity:

1. Nokia N8, C6-01, E6, (Rogers) X7 (computergeek and I confirmed that rogers have a special version of x7 - DESIGNED to not have the AWS radio in it. This version is special to rogers, so a ROGERS x7 wont work. However if you buy it from amazon, it will.)
2. Telus Samsung Hercules Galaxy S II X
3. Google (Samsung) Galaxy Nexus

Always beware - sometimes "Robellus" might have a phone that Mobilicity also has, such as the Blackberry 9700. However, there are TWO versions of this phone: an AWS version, and a PCS/CLR version. Therefore, a "Robellus" phone will only work on Mobilicity if the specifications explicity state support for AWS (1700MHz).


5. Why is everybody talking about the 700Mhz auction? Why is it important?

The physics behind radio waves dictates that lower frequencies have better range and building penetration. Data speeds are not affected by which frequency is used, but there is more radio spectrum available at higher frequencies (and the more spectrum a provider is able to obtain, the faster their network should be).

Presently, Rogers, Bell, and Telus have BOTH high (PCS) and low (CLR) frequency spectrum licenses. Mobilicity and Wind have only high frequency (AWS) licenses. Therefore, their building penetration is worse. We NEED Mobilicity and Wind to get 700Mhz (lower frequency) licenses for better building penetration.


6. Why cant Mobilicity and Wind get the same frequency as others?

Because the "others" (rogers bell and telus) have bought ALL the available frequencies in their range so NO ONE ELSE CAN COMPETE with them. This is squatting and should be illegal. They have more than 2X the spectrum of NTT DoCoMo in Japan - and 3X more than SK Telecom in korea. (speeds of SK telecom: 700Mbps. Speeds on rogers: 21 Mbps - now you decide if rogers needs more spectrum or if they should use their PRESENT spectrum more efficiently before they can bid for more?)


Acknowledgments:
1. Wikipedia
2. HowardForums Members!
3. computergeek specially for meticulously checking this thread over and over!

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