As part of their Q1 2013 conference call, Apple's CEO Tim Cook announced that the iPhone 5 would gain LTE 4G data service on 36 additional carriers next week. The iPhone 5 currently enjoys LTE on carriers in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. Korea, Germany, and Japan, among others. Slower than anticipated global LTE rollouts, however, have kept the numbers relatively low.
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.
Literally seconds after Apple opened pre-orders for the iPad mini I bought a 32GB model in white. That was on October 26. A month ago. Not only hasn't it arrived yet, it hasn't even shipped yet. U.S. iPad minis + LTE began arriving weeks ago but international iPad minis + LTE aren't being treated equally. That's nothing new. Apple famously (or infamously) delayed the release of the original iPad and iPad 2 almost a month outside the U.S. But with the iPad mini, the international Wi-Fi only versions were available for delivery and purchase day and date with U.S. versions. It's only the LTE (or cellular, if your carrier doesn't support LTE) versions that seem to be MIA.
The Wi-Fi + Cellular versions of the iPad mini and iPad 4, which include LTE, are available for purchase at AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and other U.S. retail stores from today. Quantities are likely very limited, so if you want one, you will have to be quick.
Ofcom has made good on its plans to push forward the auction for the UK’s 4G mobile spectrum auction. Applications will start in December this year and the roll out to consumers is expected to be no later than May / June 2013. Everything Everywhere already has its 4G LTE network rolling out across the UK so this will be a huge relief to the other UK networks.
AT&T will loosen its restrictions on FaceTime over LTE. Previously, AT&T had limited use of FaceTime over LTE to those customers with a Mobile Share plan. Now, a customer on any of the carrier’s plans will be able to use FaceTime over LTE. AT&T also announced that they would be making special text and data-only packages available to deaf and hard of hearing customers to increase the utility of FaceTime over cellular. In a statment, AT&T said that these initiatives would roll out in eight to ten weeks.
AT&T will invest $14 billion in the expansion of its LTE network. While AT&T is the second-largest cellular carrier in the US, it lags severely behind rival carrier Verizon in their deployment of LTE. While AT&T managed to sell a record-breaking number of iPhones with the launch of the iPhone 5, customers may decide to drop AT&T in favor of the more-robust Verizon network. The investment will be made over a three-year period, and would cover both wireless and wireline broadband networks.
Today, EE (Everything Everywhere) has officially launched the UK's very first LTE network. The service will initially roll out across eleven UK cities with that coverage increasing by 2000 sq miles every month.