EE defends Apple’s LTE policy, urges more to do the same

UK operator EE has defended Apple’s policy of preventing mobile operators from offering the iPhone 5 as an LTE device until it has tested the performance of their LTE networks, claiming it is good for the industry. The operator launched its 4G network in September 2012, with the iPhone available at launch as an LTE-capable device.

Apple’s policy, which was first reported by last year, has been criticised in some quarters as another worrying power shift towards device and OS players and away from operators. However, EE’s CEO Olaf Swantee believes that it is good for the industry and good for consumers.

“We work very closely with Apple and other manufacturers to ensure the device experience is right, because we agree with Apple,” he said. “You really need to make sure, as we move away from pure voice and text, that the mobile internet experience is good and solid.”

“We have seen many 4G operators that are not announcing the leading 4G handsets on their network because their 4G network does not support a good customer experience, so we absolutely support [Apple’s policy],” he added.

When asked Swantee whether EE would welcome other handset manufacturers, such as Samsung and HTC, taking a similarly aggressively approach to testing networks, he maintained that they must do so.

“Samsung and HTC are key partners of ours but you can’t just get a device that the manufacturer says is 4G ready and offer it as a 4G handset on your network. That’s why we are so surprised when we see some of our competitors claiming they have a 4G-ready device when they don’t even have a 4G network,” he said.

“It’s quite hard work – I have seen how many hours and how many engineers are required to make a 4G device work properly on a 4G network. This is not easy stuff.”

Swantee’s sentiments were echoed by Mansoor Hanif, director of network integration and LTE at EE.

“We find that a very positive step, because there are networks, and there are good networks,” he said. “So our hope is about differentiating our network on quality. Device manufacturers absolutely understand that now.”

The LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, is taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Click here to download a flyer for the event.


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