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Some European carriers unable to support 4G LTE on iPhone 5

“Apple’s iPhone 5, launched to great fanfare in the United States on Wednesday, will not work on superfast mobile broadband networks in much of Europe, potentially confusing consumers and setting back the development of 4G services in the region,” Paul Sandle and Leila Abboud report for Reuters. “The problem lies in the range of spectrum – the airwaves used to carry mobile signals – used in Europe. The iPhone 5 is not compatible with 4G services on the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands deployed across much of western Europe, including Spain, Italy and France. Instead, it works on the 1.8GHz band, which is still being used for voice calls by most operators in Europe.”

“Apple will produce three models of the iPhone: one optimised for U.S. carrier AT&T’s network and spectrum bands, another for Sprint and Verizon’s U.S. norms and a third for the rest of the world, including two European operators,” Sandle and Abboud report. “Deutsche Telekom in Germany and Everything Everywhere in the UK will initially be able to offer the fastest internet access to iPhone 5 users in their markets, because they are the carriers holding the right frequencies. Apple could later introduce other models compatible with more European operators’ needs, analysts say, but for now some European operators will be hamstrung.”

Sandle and Abboud report, “Europe’s construction of 4G networks is lagging behind the U.S. and Asia, though European operators are expected to spend $15.25 billion over the next three years to upgrade infrastructure to 4G speeds, according to Rethink Technology Research. The region has only a few hundred thousand 4G subscribers, most of whom use laptop dongles or home routers because there are few compatible smartphones available… Even without 4G, the new iPhone will support the faster version of 3G, known as DC-HSDPA, with up to 42 megabit speeds – faster than many home Internet connections. Long-term evolution (LTE) technology, as the true 4G gear is dubbed, can offer up to 100 megabit speeds. O2 Chief Executive Ronan Dunne said the iPhone 5 would remain popular on its network in Britain despite the lack of 4G. ‘The new device will work brilliantly on our network,’ he said in an interview.”

Read more in the full article here.