Analysts: Apple's iPhone 5 leaves out many European LTE operators

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The three versions of Apple's iPhone 5, which support different combinations of LTE bands, are more likely to please operators in North America and Asia than their counterparts in Europe, according to analysts.

The European GSM model of the iPhone 5 supports LTE in the 850 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2.1 GHz bands. Those bands can be used by relatively few operators in Europe, including EE (the former Everything Everywhere) in the UK and Deutsche Telekom in Germany.

In an interview with Macworld, Tolaga Research analyst Phil Marshall said: "If you were to build a European device, it would have 800MHz and 2.6GHz in it." He said the iPhone 5 is really targeted towards the United States and mature Asian markets with LTE, such as Japan and South Korea.

Stefan Zehle, chief executive of Coleago Consulting, shared Marshall's sentiment but is far more withering in his assessment and said the device misses the mark in Europe. "Apple says it is for the European market, specifically mentioning Deutsche Telecom in Germany and EE in the UK, but LTE in Europe is not deployed in Band 1 (2.1GHz)," he said.

Zehle also noted that the 850 MHz band is not compatible with the European 800 MHz digital dividend band anyway. That, he says, would be LTE band 20 (CEPT 800). "This is really odd as we would expect European LTE phones to support Band 20 (CEPT 800), Band 3 (1800 MHz), and Band 7 (2.6 GHz)," he said. "This band combination is the normal European LTE phone specification, as used for example for the Samsung Galaxy LTE model sold by Vodafone Germany and others."

But it is not all doom and gloom for LTE carriers in Europe wishing to jump on the Apple bandwagon. There are plenty of operators in the region who can support Apple's latest gadget on 1800 MHz. According to the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA), which tracks LTE deployments worldwide, there are 32 operators offering commercially LTE services at 1800 MHz, a growing number of which are based in Europe. Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal and Slovenia each have LTE networks up and running at 1800 MHz, the GSA noted. The UK may be added to that list very shortly through the efforts of EE.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this FT article (sub. req.)
- see this Macworld magazine article
- see this Coleago blog
- see this GSA press release

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