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Inside the Nexus 4 and LTE, with AnandTech's Brian Klug

The background: The Nexus 4 technically is not supposed to be an LTE-capable device. Only, if you're in Canada (or anywhere with Band 4 LTE), you can pick up an LTE data signal by changing a simple setting. That's pretty cool, but it's not supposed to happen, especially seeing as how the phone's not certified with the FCC to do LTE. And that's a bit deal.

So to clear up some of the confusion around LTE on the Nexus 4, we turned to Brian Klug of AnandTech. I've had the pleasure of learning from Brian on two continents now, and Jerry and I had the privilege of sitting down with him to talk the tech behind LTE on the Nexus 4, and whether it's something we should expect to last. 

As you listen along, I urge you to refer to Brian's "Nexus 4 Includes Support for LTE on Band 4 (AWS)" post at AnandTech. And mad props to Brian for learnin' us a thing or three.

  • So, here is my question about all this. When everyone flared up about companies not allowing us to use our phones as wireless hotspots, people either A) found a way around it, or B) were forced to pay or pass on the feature. Then the judge said, if the phone has it, you can't stop them from using it. So, my question is: If the phone has an LTE Radio in it, and people find a way to use it, should we be allowed to do so? The FCC or whoever may not agree, but we own the phone, and we should be allowed to do as we please with it. What do you think?
  • Fun answer: Less fun answer: Unlicensed is unlicensed. That's no bueno.
  • I get that it is unlicensed, but shouldn't that be on Google for including it?
  • Well thats why they speculated that the next radio they release will probably disable it
  • Understood, but Root, and Flash a new Radio, and BAM! LTE in USA. I flashed better radios on my old Epic 4G, I know it is being done with the Nexus 4.
  • You are allowed to legally purchase a gun, but are not allwoed to just shoot people with it because you are bored. And if you did they would not blame the gun store that legally sold it to you. There are laws on transmitting over open radio frequencies (Note: the same laws that protect you from everyone just using mass broadcast jammers all the time to block all frequencies just to be jerks.)
  • If the phone works on LTE in Canada, the FCC has nothing todo with it.
  • You need a better understanding of that works....
  • Yes thats depends on law of specific country, but lot of countries regulates what transmistion devices can be sold. Ofcorse in this case it's minor problem, but could do some bad stuff via transmitting in not right way, thats why those matters are regulated. I know France got some crazy law that really restricts use of WiFi and Bluetooth
  • I have all manner of things that I own but can only use the way the government allows. That's probably a good thing.
  • It could be a good thing for safety, if you trust the government to execute the laws correctly and the courts to administer justice correctly. But it is a poor thing for liberty. And you should never blindly trust the government to do the right thing.
  • Glad to see AC not giving up on this issue. Everyone makes mistakes. It's the people that don't get upset when called out on them and instead turn their mistakes into an opportunity to learn something that get my respect. typo - "I've had the please" should be "I've had the pleasure"
  • I really liked this guy until he got all high and mighty about coverage not being necessary in rural areas where there's a lot of "nothing" -.-
  • lol, cause who needs a cell phone to work when their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere?
  • lol, who drives an unreliable car into the middle of nowhere? Bad life choices ;-)
  • That was a strange comment to make for sure.
  • This podcast was a great idea, props for that.
  • But why does the podcast page still show how to subscribe via Google Listen?
  • Just because Google stopped supporting it & pulled it from the Play Store doesn't mean that people don't still have it on their devices.
  • You think that's why they're having so much trouble keeping them in stock.
  • Best line of the day: "I really wish that I was in Canada" You know it!!! Go Canada! FYI: There is no FCC in Canada (obviously) here the relevant gov't dept is called Industry Canada. FYI #2: Telus, Bell & Rogers all operate their HSPA Networks on the same frequencies as AT&T (DC for Telus & Bell) and all 3 operate their LTE Networks on Band 4 AWS frequencies (1700/2100). Rogers/Bell have a few markets where they also operate LTE on Band 7 (2600) but it's minimal. Cheers!
  • So here's a thought. T-Mobile bought up AWS for their LTE... T-Mobile is the only carrier to be carrying the Nexus 4 directly. Is it possible that there's a seperate application with the FCC for LTE on the device and we'll see it turned on in the near future when T-Mobile lights up LTE on their AWS bands? Maybe there won't be a radio update that disables the functionality because it's meant to be there? EDIT: Referring to the US T-Mobile market :-)
  • As far as i know it's not how you do it. You can have secret applications, but they're only allowed to be secret beyond the release of the device itself. And regardless of whether or not they plan on using it on T-Mobile's LTE in the future it would be a simple update either way, as Brian Klug mentioned in the podcast it's basically the equivalent of a checkbox in a config file before making the baseband image, there really is no reason to keep it there hidden.
  • Two things after listening to the podcast. Brian is an incredible resource of the technical things within a cell phone, but I wish to make a few other things clear. Firstly, All 3 major Canadian carriers use 1700/2100 for LTE, Rogers and Bell can also use 2600. These carriers are also all GSM since Telus and Bell flipped over from CDMA a few years ago. Their subsidiaries are Fido & Chatr (Rogers), Koodo (Telus), Virgin & Solo (Bell). There are 3 startup companies that utilize 1700 for 3g, Wind, Mobilicity, and Public Mobile. We have no 700 MHz spectrum, it hasn't been auctioned by the government yet. Secondly, how could the FCC force this off, when it doesn't even work in the US, only in a place they have no jurisdiction over? And why would they care? No one in the US is getting zapped with scary microwaves that weren't tested for, because they don't exist in your country. How would they be able to for Google to cut it out? The menu which switches it on is available in all stock Android ROMs. I can select that right now with my Galaxy Nexus, but it doesn't do anything because there is no hardware.
  • That's right. This whole thing is very US-centric. The FCC has no jurisdiction in Canada so it's not relevant. Industry Canada accept FCC test reports but that's where the relationship ends. However, it's unlicensed for LTE with Industry Canada too and that's the real issue.
  • Holy F'ing geek talk Batman, nice work guys.
  • Phil, That was a good podcast. You should have Brian on again for a question and answer session.
  • 100% AGREED. Monthly tech/geek podcasts with special guests like Brian would be awesome!
  • Great episode. Thanks dudes.
  • LOL! As I was listening to all the spectrum talk, my brain exploded... I'm licking pieces of it off the walls now... and loving every minute of it!!! MORE!! MORE!! MORE!!
  • MOST EXCELLENT PODCAST. I know, it's what we used to call "the long-haired stuff," but the technical details of what's in the phone and what it means for what carriers was valuable reporting. Thanks for recording this special intervieww with Brian, guys. :) Typo: "And that's a bit deal." ,:)
  • Its the Koreans.... always causing
  • In the words of the great philosopher John Daly, "smoke em if you got em". Rock the LTE while it last.