It’s gotta suck to be an Apple fan living in Sweden right now. The world’s first LTE network went live in Sweden in December of 2009 – TeliaSonera beat global heavyweights Verizon and NTT DoCoMo by nearly a year – but Europe’s frosty north was left in the cold Wednesday at Apple’s big 4G iPhone launch.
“Sweden’s LTE customers have waited nearly 3 years, but still didn’t get [the 4G] iPhone,” GSM Association director of technology Dan Warren told me in a Twitter conversation. “In fact anyone with 2.6GHz or 800MHz has missed out.”
The airwaves Warren referenced are the primary 4G bands available to European operators, and both were left unsupported in all three versions on the iPhone 5 Apple revealed today. Europe didn’t miss out on Apple’s new LTE love completely. Operators deploying 4G in the 1800 MHz bands such as Everything Everywhere, T-Mobile Germany, 3 Italia and 3 UK. But those carriers are a minority who happen to have leftover 2G spectrum they can repurpose for LTE.
Apple is simply going where the current LTE networks lie, and for the most part they’re in Korea, Japan and in the US. The Scandinavian countries may have been pioneers when it comes to LTE, but they make up a small part of the overall European market. Most operators over the Atlantic won’t have sizable LTE networks launched until well into 2013. Apple figures it can tackle their frequencies with next year’s iPhone.
Still, it must be a bit disheartening if you’re a European planning to buy the iPhone 5, knowing your new phone won’t work on the 4G networks in your country. The iPhone 5 may be a revolutionary device for the US, but that revolution won’t hit Europe until the iPhone 6.