Apple testing LTE network quality

Apple testing LTE network quality

Apple is apparently quite strict when it comes to allowing carriers to offer the iPhone 5 as an LTE device, requiring carriers to allow Apple to independently test the quality of their LTE network. If the network is up to Apple’s standards, then they will enable LTE functionality on the iPhone 5. This test can mean that, as carriers across the world start rolling out their LTE networks, the iPhone 5 won’t be immediately useable as an LTE device. At least that's what Swiss carrier Swisscom has discovered, according to a report by

Swisscom launched its LTE network this week although the iPhone 5 was not available as an LTE device at launch. “Apple will provide a software update in due course,” the firm said in a press release.

Carriers have always tested devices to make sure that they ran properly on their networks, but handset manufacturers don’t normally run tests on the network. Apple’s policy gives them control over carriers, and pressures those who want the iPhone 5 to run on their network to make sure that it is reliable as soon as possible.

This test could also be a primary reason that an unlocked iPhone 5 will not work on an LTE network that is not affiliated with Apple. If Apple hasn’t vetted the network, then the iPhone doesn’t have the software update that allows it to work on LTE.

Most handset makers don’t have the power to demand the ability to test networks. Apple can do this because people want the iPhone, and they don’t want the phone they buy to have any functionality disabled because their carrier didn’t meet Apple’s standards. This affords Apple the opportunity to hold their carrier partners to Apple’s standards of quality, at least with network performance. While it might seem like an inconvenience, this policy may help encourage carriers to get their LTE networks right, and not rushing them just to say they have LTE.


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Joseph Keller

News Writer for Mobile Nations. Fascinated by the ways that technology connects us.

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Reader comments

Apple testing LTE network quality


Proximus (Belgium) launched its 4G network on November 5th and the iPhone 5 still doesn't support it. I understand they would do this with carriers selling the iPhone 5 on contract but blocking factory unlocked iPhone's from working with 4G networks is unacceptable.

Let's say a carrier made some kind of mistake when configuring their LTE network that caused an iPhone 5 to use too much power when it is connected to the network. Who are people going to blame when their iPhones have poor battery life?

Apple's policy seems perfectly reasonable to me.

Re: "While it might seem like an inconvenience, this policy may help encourage carriers to get their LTE networks right, and not rushing them just to say they have LTE."

It does seem inconvenient, to me.

If these are carriers who already have iPhones then all Apple is doing is limiting the LTE functionality to ZERO for customers instead of something between that and 100%.

You might call it inconvient but it makes total sense, Apple sells one of the most desired products on the planet, if carriers can't create a network up to the standards of such a device then they should not be able to market it as a 4g LTE phone on their network. Yea sprints 3G network is horrendous, but speaking from experience because I have a sprint iphone 5 and I live in Texas and drive around the city all day long because I work for time Warner cable, I'm almost always connected to LTE with 4 bars even in rural ass areas of Dallas. Sprints LTE is awesome and once it's footprint is as large as say verizon it will be better. Sorry for the rant.

Everyone is always busting AT&T's chops, but it's doing pretty well rolling out the 4g LTE. Even faster than some phones are adding it to their capabilities (hear that, Nexus?). As a real estate professional in Atlanta, I can't imagine trying to send large image files of blueprints over anything slower.