Q – I wonder if you can advise me if I can be assured that my new Verizon 4G LTE phone will work on an upcoming trip to Germany and Austria. The salesman in the Verizon store said it would but he was all of eighteen and told me he had never been to Europe.
A – Well he probably has spent virtual time there. Our guess is that you will encounter problems. If you absolutely need to have a phone that works in any particular country, you need to have a local sim card and a phone that connects to the local wireless network. 4G technology is an improvement but the fact is that a smartphone that is going to work on a 700MHz in this country, will probably not work in Germany which uses a different radio frequency combination. That is the part they don’t normally bother to explain when you are purchasing a smartphone two-year plan. There are going to be tons of roaming issues because carriers in various parts of Europe are using LTE as the next-gen operating system but they have been slow to build the new networks after committing a lot of money to the old 3G system. While 4G LTE is the new standard, there are relatively few networks using the technology that have yet been deployed. Easy roaming in Europe is, we believe, as much as a decade away. Thankfully, there are some immediate alternatives to connectivity including so-called international universal sim card phones, satellite phones, which always work must must be used outdoors to get proper signals, or Skype and other cloud-based technologies. You can get hooked up anywhere with the right equipment. But walking into AT&T or Verizon and plunking down a few hundred dollars for a phone that “easily roams Europe” is putting your faith into a portion of the business world that does has done little to earn your trust.