Let's take a look at a released phone that we know to be quadband -- that is, a phone that supports GSM on the 850, 900, 1800, and 1900MHz bands, offering coverage pretty much anywhere in the world that a GSM tower exists. For our purposes, we'll pick on the RIM BlackBerry 8800. You're going to get a frightening peek into our daily FCC-lurking insanity here.
Searching for the 8800's FCC ID reveals offers up four filings: one for each band the FCC cares about
plus an accessory filing that details radiation emitted by the phone's AC adapter. Here we see 850 and 1900 (GSM) and 2400 (Bluetooth). No mention of GSM 900 or 1800 here, despite the fact that the 8800 has the requisite support; the bands aren't used in the States, so they're dead in the FCC's eyes and RIM is under no obligation to provide test reports for them (at least, not to the FCC).
Now let's take a closer look at the test report for the device itself. Pardon the size of the text here -- you can check out the actual filing
if you're so inclined -- but essentially, once again you'll find zero mention of GSM 900 or 1800. The FCC just doesn't give a crap, and why should it? You can't use those bands here. It's impossible, unless you're running some rogue cell network, and let's face it -- if that starts to become a problem 'round these parts, the FCC has bigger fish to fry than a filing for a band you can't use.
So that's our little tutorial into the deep, dark annals of FCC madness. It's a place we prefer not to go unless we have to
, and a place we recommend our readers never
venture. When a device like the iPhone gets blessed, though, it's pretty hard to avoid. Of course, "quadband" doesn't mean "unlocked" in this case -- AT&T still stands in your way regardless of where you plan on using the phone -- but at least you won't be stuck with nothing more than a fancy lookin' iPod once you hop the pond.