Mideast sellers won't refund iPads missing 4G connectivity
For manufacturers like Apple, LTE spectrum fragmentation will continue to pose a major challenge
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New iPad aficionados in the Middle East will not get a refund from Apple for the gadget's lack of fourth-generation long term evolution (4G LTE) connectivity, as the US-based firm has not officially launched its latest product in the region.
Apple said in an Australia court they will offer a refund to disappointed buyers. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission accused Apple of violating the law and threatened the company with massive fines or even a sales injunction. The new tablet is labelled as ‘4G' — but the connection does not work in many countries, due to differing mobile networks.
"LTE spectrum fragmentation remains one of the prime challenges for the holistic development of fully converged LTE eco-system. The situation is not different in the UAE. In September 2011, etisalat announced the limited commercial deployment of LTE in the 2600Mhz band, which is different from 700Mhz and 2100Mhz bands being used in the US," Bhanu Chaddha, IDC's Senior Research Analyst - Telecommunications, Middle East, Africa and Turkey, told Gulf News.
4G is a split technology, like VHS and Betamax, or HD-DVD and Blu-ray. 2G and 3G are set standards, and run on the same band internationally, allowing roaming from one region to another without having to use a different phone, or being cut off entirely from the mobile web. 4G can either mean Wi-Max or LTE.
In the US and Canada, the iPad runs on Verizon or AT&T. Even though the two 4G services are the same and operate in the same 700MHz band, the two networks require different hardware, which forced Apple to create an iPad for each network
Sprint runs Wi-Max. It makes sense for Apple to stick with its mobile network partners and appease the greater numbers. Instead of creating a third new iPad to accommodate Sprint customers, it left its million odd users out in the cold.
Outside North America, however, 4G LTE just won't work, even those on compatible bands of 700MHz or 2100MHz. In the UK, for instance, the tablet is labelled ‘Wi-Fi + 4G', despite the fact there is no compatible network to connect to. In Australia, the 4G services operate on an 1800MHz bandwidth.
Chaddha said the new iPad, though being a multi-mode device, currently only supports the US version of the LTE spectrum, which leaves its LTE functionality redundant on networks outside the US. It is, in fact, expected that globally 38 different combinations of LTE spectrum will be in use by 2015. However, he said one advantage of the new iPad being a multi-mode device is that users can access high speed 3G on their iPad, with some compromise on the service usage experience compared to LTE.
For manufacturers like Apple, LTE spectrum fragmentation will continue to pose a major challenge, as it may be practically very difficult to produce a single device that works on all LTE frequencies.
Satement — 'difficult, disappointing'
It is "difficult and disappointing" that Apple Inc's new iPad tablet computer's fourth-generation wireless capability is incompatible with the mobile data network in the Middle East, a senior executive of etisalat said yesterday.
"The way that the frequency is chosen is not the one that we and Europe are using, which is difficult and disappointing," said Matthew Willsher, etisalat's chief marketing officer.
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