Some of you are too young to remember this, but there was once a time when you couldn't buy a phone that would work in every country around the world. These days, thanks to the relentless pace of technology, almost every phone that gets shipped supports all four GSM bands and at least four or five 3G/3.5G bands.
But then 4G LTE had to happen, and it screwed everything up again. AT&T and Verizon use the 700 MHz band, but they're not compatible with each other because they're two different blocks of the 700 MHz band. T-Mobile uses their 1700 MHz band, along with their 1900 MHz band, which means they're going to struggle to get OEMs to support their network. Europe is a whole different story. There's the 800 MHz band, 1800 MHz band, 2600 MHz band, and some operators are even using their old 900 MHz and 2100 MHz 3G bands to roll out 4G LTE.
In short, the world is a mess, but Qualcomm says they're going to solve the issue. Today they're announcing the “RF360 Front End Solution”. Terrible name, but then again most people will probably not care about this. If you want the nitty gritty technical details, we suggest you read Qualcomm’s press release. The basic idea is this: Smartphones using the RF360 solution are going to hit the market during the second half of 2013. They'll support roughly 40, yes 40, 4G LTE bands.
Why is any of this important? Because companies don't want to have multiple variants of the same device. Say you're HTC. Imagine how much of a pain in the ass it is to have one variant of the One for America, another for Europe, and yet another for Asia. And say the One is exploding in Asia, but no one in Europe really cares for it. Can you simply move those One units to Asia and sell them? No, because they support different networks.
Thanks to Qualcomm, companies just have to make one phone.