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Apple, new iPad and LTE

So… Apple has brought out the new iPad (that’s also the official sale name!) and
one of it’s advertised features is LTE. LTE, standing for Long Term Evolution, is
a new transmission standard in the wireless communication and allows higher
bandwidths. multiple frequency bands are used to be omni-compatible.

However in this case, Apple seems to have forgotten the rest of the world but USA. Why you ask? Well. When Apple has shown it’s new iPad, the world was excited. One of the first devices using LTE. Great. Fast surfing experience, no problems with huge downloads. simply astounding. Even I was dazzled and played with the idea buying one with integrated 4G module. However today, one of my best friends friends made me pull my attention to the advertised LTE feature of the new iPad.

And yes. the LTE feature is onboard using the 700MHZ and 2100MHz band. So what’s the great deal then? Well… none except that these bands are only used in the USA. Maybe Apple has lost focus and oriented the LTE module just to Verizon, and AT&T, the two major carriers in the USA (partly Canada) and official sale partners of Apple. Sprint is out the challenge as they’re using th 2600MHz band and thus out of the range of the LTE module used in the new iPad.

What does that mean for Europe and other countries where LTE is about to come within the next 12 months?

In Germany for Example you’re looking into a deep hole because Germany has announced to use only the 800MHz, 1800MHz and 2600MHz band. Thus incompatible with the LTE module built into the new iPad. It seems as if LTE shall be used for home office activities only as the big mobile service carriers don’t have mobile handsets in their portfolio that could use LTE. Upon my researchse I haven’t found any devices yet that work with the 800/2600MHz bandwidth! Who would need LTE 2600MHz at home anyways when you have fast cable internet with speeds up to 100Mbps (besides the fact that LTE tariffs may be much more expensive)?

Yet, the three major mobile network providers of Germany all have only Home-based  LTE services in their LTE portfolio. Mobile handsets? No deal!

In Austria you’re even stripped down to only one(!) frequency: 2600MHz – That’s it, no less, no more! So LTE in Austria is only available in dense-populated areas. If you’re on landside, then you’re off the LTE hook.

The same is valid for France and Italy. They also only offer LTE on the 2600MHz band.

In UK the major service providers will operate LTE on the 3600 and 3800MHz band. Even here the iPad won’t work with LTE.

In Brasil it’s the same. As also Brasil is offering Advanced LTE (E-UTRA), they’re using frequency bands aoutside the 700MHz and 2100MHz range. IPad and 4G in Brasil: NOPE!

In Switzerland, the telecommincation commission is still discussing which frequency bands to use. One of them should be the 2100MHz band, the other is also the 800MHz band, so in Switzerland you could maybe use the LTE feature of the new iPad… but only in cities as the 2100MHz band has limited range per antenna (up to 300m compared to 10km of the 700MHz band). But things haven’t yet been decided and so it’s unsure if the new iPad will work on LTE in Switzerland also. What does that mean for swiss customers if they should be able to use LTE? They will be able to use the LTE feature in Switzerland but when they travel to Germany, Austria, France or Italy, the LTE will drop as these EU countries together all only provide 800MHz and 2600MHz bands. Though luck then! However I doubt that Switzerland will odd theirselves out from the rest of the world and also using frequency bands that are common with E-UTRA and thus I think, they will act in the 800MHZ and 2600MHz band as well as all surrounding countries do.

And what about an update to use these frequencies as well? Nope! As the LTE chip is designed to operate only with the 700MHz and 2100MHz bands, the only chance is that EU countries (and others of course) operate LTE at the given frequency bands. Most unlikely I think as these bands are expensive to reserve for and in some countries they’re reserved to other services anyways. So worldwide LTE with the new iPad? Forget it!

Bummer! And I thought, I could be an early adopter of LTE. Seems not! Apple says that it ain’t a big deal as the new iPad is also capable of operating in the HSPA+ 3G network providing downstream of 42Mbit/s and upstream of 14 Mbit/s which is mostly enough for all Apps you run on the iPad anyways. May be true, yes, but unlike some Apple guru’s I don’t change my hardware often. So an investition in the new iPad is something for at least 2 years (or as long as the device lives!) – And such actions, namely LTE support in only selected countries, is simply unsustainable. And Apple could have done better. Best example, the iPhone 4 . the 4S was only a small step up but also lacks some features, people have expected. Yet it’s a decent device.

Hopefully, the upcoming iPhone 5 isn’t dealing with the same issue as the new iPad concerning LTE. It would be a big image loss. And anyways. We’re expecting new things to come. the cell network of the next generation, namely 4G is one of such things. Why ain’t this available for mobile devices also? There’s much potential in it and EU countries are giving away this chance.

Final conclusion: LTE has the same issues as on the 90’s where quadband cell phones got their debute. Same will happen to the LTE era. The devices must be concepted so that their modules are working with the different frequencies. However I still don’t get it why Apple neglects 80% of the world concerning LTE and making a big deal of it anyways.

Well… my intention was not to badmouth the new iPad, it’s a really cool an dazzling iDevice I’d like to get my hands on but after this I decided to stick to the 64GB WiFi model as I don’t need another contract for my iPad to operate in mobile networks. Simply thethering it with my iPhone and there we go. When time has come and the new iPad becomes available AND i should get one in a decent timeframe, I’ll post my experiences here!

Have a nice weekend and enjoy the upcoming times!

March 9, 2012 Netspark - 1075 posts - Member since: May 9th, 2011 No Comments »

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