Sony has developed the first real international LTE device, with the Sony Xperia Z Ultra coming with octo-band LTE support. With all the fragmentation on LTE, especially in North America where every carrier seems to want a different unique band, it has been hard for a device to be truly international.
The bands available on the Xperia Z Ultra are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 20. Bands 2 and 4 are relevant, because these are the two open LTE bands in North America. T-Mobile currently utilises these bands and all carriers can work on the 2 and 4 band, but most have their own unique band to lock in customers.
In Europe, the situation is a better, with all countries using the same LTE band to configure the phone across Europe. Asia has a similar situation, although China and some other countries continue to place propriety technology instead of using open standards.
This is the same situation we had at the start of the 3G rollout, but after a while carriers began to work together, allowing customers to use their phone in any country when needed. While data roaming is quite an expensive risk, holiday data plans can keep the user online without getting a huge bill.
We are glad to see Sony and Samsung pushing this octo-band LTE technology, with Samsung announcing the Exynos 5 will come with octo-band LTE technology as well, we are likely to see more manufacturers add this into their smartphones.
There is still no word on a US launch for the Xperia Z Ultra.