Much has been made of the iPad 3’s 4G LTE compatibility, but unfortunately it seems it will only be available to Canadian and US customers due to the radio frequencies it uses.
The iPad 3’s 4G LTE compatibility was expected to be a big driver of the new mobile technology’s uptake, but unfortunately Apple has limited access to Canadian and US radio frequencies – completely ignoring Europe and the UK.
Apple’s new CEO Tim Cook unveiled Apple’s latest iPad last week, and alongside minor upgrades and the addition of a hi-res screen (2048 x 1536), the key development was the integration of 4G LTE mobile network support, which would allow for landline-like download speeds – a technology Apple had spurned on previous iterations of its devices.
Unfortunately for the Germans, who at this stage have the only full functioning European 4G phone network, Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone Germany and Telefonica Germany are all now stating that the iPad 3 will not function on their 4G LTE networks.
The problem? Radio frequencies.
The Americans and Canadians are operating their 4G predominantly in the 700MHz and 2100MHz spectrums, which Apple has limited itself to.
The Germans are using 800MHz, 1800MHz and 2600MHz – meaning that the Apple iPad 3 simply will not pick up the German 4G networks. It will still function on 3G and 2G, as well as HSPA+ (colloquially referred to as 3.5G).
Unfortunately, this also means the other countries in the EU have the same problem – including the UK, if and when it launches. This is now expected to be around 2013, following the 4G spectrum auction due at year end.
Everything Everywhere (T-Mobile and Orange) has applied to OfCom for an exemption to start a 4G network on its existing spectrum, around 1800MHz, this year. This would also mean the iPad 3 would not function in 4G mode here either.
This is a big drawback for 4G advocates in Europe, as Apple’s products were expected to be major drivers of 4G uptake in the region. It also leaves a window open for tablet rivals, such as Samsung (or other Google Android products) or even Windows 8 tablets (due to launch later this year) – if they can take advantage of it.
English fans will probably have to wait for the iPad 4 – which will probably launch this time next year, supply shortages and all.
Fingers are still crossed that the iPhone 5, due to launch mid-year, will have a more robust 4G feature set, rather than limiting itself to North American frequencies.