Friday, September 07, 2012

Source: iPhone 5 to support LTE networks globally

Designing a mobile device that can handle the multiple LTE bands globally is a challenge, which is why the "new iPad" is only compatible with AT&T and Verizon LTE networks in the US, and Bell, Rogers and Telus networks in Canada. A new report says that the iPhone 5, which is set to be introduced on Sept. 12, won't have that limitation.

Speaking to sources familiar with the situation, the Wall Street Journal reported that the next-generation iPhone will be compatible with LTE networks around the world, including the U.S., Asia, and Europe. It's doubtful, though, that the iPhone 5 will be compatible with the LTE networks of every carrier, the sources added.

Until now, Apple has not supported LTE, or Long-Term Evolution 4G. It's advertised 4G by supporting HSPA+, but many call that faux 4G, not actual 4G. The iPhone 5 is expected to be the first iPhone to support LTE.

There are far more LTE bands than their are 3G GSM bands though, and that's a challenge. IDC analyst John Byrne estimated that there are 36 LTE bands globally. Meanwhile, he estimated that there are "only" 22 3G GSM bands around the world.

While LTE is the future, it's still a burgeoning technology. So far, only three countries have significant numbers of LTE customers: the United States, South Korea and Japan. According to IDC, Verizon currently has the largest LTE network in the world and the highest number of LTE subscribers, around nine million at the end of the first quarter.

South Korea's SK Telecom is second with 2.75 million LTE subscribers, while Japan's NTT DoCoMo has 2.23 million, according to IDC.

Europe is still lagging in LTE adoption, with LTE service in Germany, Scandinavia, and elsewhere, but the technology is still in its infancy in most of Europe. Despite that, though, LTE is seen as a checkbox that Apple must meet to compete with its Android rivals, including Samsung.

LTE-capable Android phones are currently being sold in 11 countries including the U.S., Japan, South Korea, Australia and Germany, according to IDC.

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