Cellular Frequency Basics
The frequency of a radio wave is literally a measure of how many wave peaks there are per second – for example, a frequency of 700MHz means 700 million wave peaks per second are passing by.
A "channel" covers a range of frequencies - and the wider the range of frequencies covered, the faster data can be sent over the air on a given channel.
This channel width literally defines the "bandwidth" of the channel.
A "band" is made up of one or more similar channels, grouped together and labeled for convenience.
A cellular band may be exclusive to a single carrier, or it might be subdivided into "blocks" each controlled by different carriers.
It sounds complicated, but it really is not.
Let's imagine we have a long road with several marinas and campgrounds along it. We'll call it The Nomad Mile.
- Radio Spectrum / Road: The real estate along the road is the radio spectrum that is divided up between different properties.
- Bands / Marinas & Campgrounds: Each campground and marina along our road is it's own own property with its own boundaries - each property being like a frequency band.
- Blocks / Loops & Docks: Each campground and marina is then organized by camping loops and docks. Each individual loop or dock is a block of spectrum.
- Channels / Campsites & Slips: Within each camp loop or dock, you have individual sites and slips. Each one of those is a like a channel.
- Frequency / Distance to Front: Each site within a loop or dock is a different distance to the front office. That distance is like the frequency.
- Bandwidth / Site & Slip Dimensions: Each site has its own dimensions of how large of an RV or boat they can fit - such as 30', 40, 50'. That size is like the bandwidth - how much capacity each channel (or site) has.
It really is that simple.
This band is not split into blocks, and is exclusive to Verizon across the United States.
There are two channels that make up Band 13 - a download channel broadcast from the cell tower on 746MHz to 756MHz, and an upload channel broadcast back using 777MHz to 787MHz.
Each channel thus has 10MHz of bandwidth - limiting Verizon's potential peak speeds, a tradeoff against the great range that this band offers.
But what does all this mean in practice?
Do frequencies impact cellular range and speed?
Are some LTE bands better than others?
How are things changing as 5G comes on the scene?
Read on for the details...
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Range & Real Estate
We explain how low and high frequency bands have differing ranges, and how the carriers divide up their frequency real estate.
Cellular Frequency Bands
Understanding the frequency bands your carrier utilizes is key in selecting the right cellular gear.
Frequency Asked Questions
Ok, we couldn't resist the pun. In this section we field some frequently asked questions about cellular frequencies.
Conclusion: Know Which Frequencies Your Carrier Uses
Understanding cellular frequencies and how your devices utilize them can be helpful when deciding what equipment to buy. In general, lower frequencies mean more range, and higher frequencies mean more bandwidth/speed. A savvy shopper wanting access to a carrier's entire network should make sure any devices purchased support all of the current and future frequencies that the carrier utilizes. If not, you could be missing out on coverage in some locations and may experience slower network speeds.
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