Only one of the three spectrum bands supported by the European version of Apple’s iPhone 5 is a European LTE band; a decision described by one industry consultancy as “really odd”. According to Apple’s website, the new handset supports LTE bands 1 (2100MHz), 3 (1800MHz) and 5 (850MHz). In Europe LTE is being deployed at 2.6GHz and the European digital dividend band of 800MHz, as well as 1800MHz.
This decision could cause problems for a number of European operators that don’t have 1800MHz spectrum in any quantity. As things stand in the UK, which has been in the headlines itself this week thanks to EE’s forthcoming launch, Vodafone and O2 will not be able to make a great deal of use of the iPhone 5 when they eventually get their LTE spectrum, unless they re-farm some of what they currently use for 3G services.
“In Europe LTE is not deployed in Band 1 (2.1GHz). Furthermore Band 5 is not the European 800MHz Digital Dividend band – that would be Band 20 (CEPT 800),” said Stefan Zehle, CEO of industry consultancy Coleago. “This is really odd, perhaps Apple made a mistake in its website publication and it should read Band 20 (CEPT 800), Band 3 (1800 MHz), and Band 7 (2.6GHz). 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.”