(Image courtesy Cult of Mac)
LTE is something almost every mobile user is beginning to want, and living in an area with Verizon’s 4G LTE coverage, I can tell you, it’s fast. Blazingly fast. At some times I will actually connect my iMac or MacBook to my HotSpot in order to use LTE over my home internet, because it’s just that fast. But where consumers see something great, manufacturers that make one device that is supposed to work around the world (should sound familiar) see challenge. The problem comes in the form of frequency bands.
Throughout the world, 60% of carriers expect they will launch their LTE service over the next 18 months. The only Apple product to use LTE at the moment is the new iPad, however that has already run into problems. The iPad is only compatible with LTE networks in North America currently, which caused confusion in other countries. Apple has since rebranded the iPad “WiFi+4GLTE” as the iPad “WiFi+Cellular.”
There are currently 4 different “regions” of LTE spectrum,
- North America – 700MHz and 2,100MHz
- Western Europe, the Middle East, and Africa – 800MHz and 2,600MHz
- Eastern Europe – 800MHz, 1,800MHz, 2,300MHz and 2,600MHz
- Asia-Pacific – 1,800MHz and 2,100MHz
Looking closely, you’ll see there is some overlap, however it’s also obvious that there is some serious fragmentation issues as well. Most countries independently decide which spectrum is used for what, causing an issue with creating a global LTE standard spectrum because different countries have it split up for different reasons.
In all, this may force Apple to manufacture region-specific iPhones and iPads, which they have avoided in an effort to create a “universally” useable line up of devices, regardless of region. To come to a solution, political involvement seems necessary, and Apple can’t push them alone.
What do you think? Will they start making region specific iPhones/iPads? Will the countries come together for a global LTE standard? Let us know in the comments.