Blog Post

Does Apple hate Swedes?

It’s gotta suck to be an Apple(s aapl) 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(s vz)(s vod) 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.

29 Responses to “Does Apple hate Swedes?”

  1. Yes most European countries have the 1800 band. Bur almost no operators are using it for LTE yet. Instead they use 2600 and 800 MHz. The 1800 band has recently been freed up for LTE.
    It would take a major investment cost to cater for Iphone 5 users. No other major LTE smart phones has the same limitation band wise. So the operators who already are in deep since flat rates are eating their profits an not likley to jump on new costly investments.
    It seems like Apple developers are still looking at the navel rather than outside Cupertino and Silicon Valley. That they do that was obvious when the Ipad 3 was launched this spring. I was there and Apple product specialists present at the demos following the launch event in London truly thought that Ipad 3 had LTE capacity in Europe too.
    That was the official message on Apple’s Europeans web sites as well untill two days later when they changed their texts and no longer claimed support for LTE.
    It is very likely the lack of LTE support in large portions of Europe comes as an early X-mas present to Samsung and other Android vendors. And if that was the Apple’s purpose, fine. Mission accomplished.

  2. Rodrigo Freitas

    Same problem in Portugal. Well, a semi-problem. Because all 3 major carriers in Portugal despite acquiring the same amount of 800, 1800, and 2600, started by implementing the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands first. There’s a good coverage of LTE by two of those carriers (TMN and Vodafone), unfortunately the most widespread bands, are “the wrong” bands.

  3. Christopher Kalie

    The carriers did a very brave thing in Korea – they deactivated their 2G networks and reallocated the 2G spectrum for LTE. Then they paid off the remaining few thousand 2G subscribers to switch to 3G or LTE. LG U+ – Korea’s first LTE network also went 850 Mhz and got left out in the cold

  4. Stefan Brunner

    I am just coming back from my Germany trip. Most noticeable was how poorly developed data networks are in Germany. The first provider worked barely, the provider who has allegedly the fastest network in Germany, worked painfully and spotty. This was within Berlin city borders. Outside of Berlin, data was practically deaf on both providers. At the same time – voice beautifully worked essentially everywhere I went. I think Europe has to do quiet some catching up to do on their data networks. Being a German iPhone user is frustrating and painful at best – so LTE support is the least of their worries in the moment.

  5. No Apple in Europe, well this is not so bad… Apple is loosing its marketshare since 2 years and Android is taking that… I’m sure there will be many great Android phones for European LTE networks… :-)

  6. Dilip Andrade

    Based on trends, I doubt next year will be an iPhone 6… more likely a 5S, which will be outwardly identical causing people to gnash their teeth and complain, but every internal feature will be improved making it a better device…

    • Well the category 3 LTE chipset inside Apple’s iPhone 5 (MDM9615M), when connected to 2x20Mhz FDD-LTE, is peaking at 100mbps. In Sweden afaik, they’ve deployed 2x20Mhz in the 2600Mhz band, and have recently won 2x35Mhz in the 1800Mhz. I would go as far to say that I’m really jealous of how much spectrum Swedish carriers have at their disposal. :)
      With cat 4 LTE chipsets that’ll go up to 150mbps, and with LTE-A carrier aggregation and higher MIMO setup, if there is a single country in the world that will achieve 1Gbps on LTE-A, it will be Sweden.

  7. Karl Snow

    “In fact anyone with 2.6GHz or 800MHz has missed out.”

    Yes, it really sucks, if true. Been waiting to upgrading our 4/4S to iPhone5 for my family and the company. But as I am working in Scandinavia, mostly Sweden, I will probably reconsider upgrading for the time being.
    I waited for upgrading to iPad3 for the same reason. My home and company are a Multi-Apple gadgets users and as Per Axner (above) I carry around Huawei 4G routers with me anywhere, in the car, hotels etc.
    As Apple is not complying to the Swedish 800MHz band, I will pass on upgrading this time, even though the new iPhone5 complies with HSDPA+ and DC-HSDPA. Sorry Apple.

  8. Per Axbom

    As a Swede, yeah it sucks. I’m just glad I’m carrying around my own Huawei 4G portable router all the time. Turns out that was a really good buy. Brian, yeah we pretty much hate ourselves too… Only, the Swedish chef in the Muppet Show – he’s more Norwegian… :D

  9. Is this _really_ the level of tech journalism these days?

    No, Apple does not “hate” Sweden.

    No, it does not “suck” to live there, even if you’re an Apple fan.

    Get a grip on your terminology.

    • Andrew J Shepherd

      You should “get a grip” on your reading comprehension, logical reasoning, and humor detection.

      Kevin said that “[i]t’s gotta suck to be an Apple fan living in Sweden right now,” not that it sucks to live in Sweden. Then, you proceeded to distort his logic, which — by the way — was obviously meant to be whimsical.

      Yeah, you need to “get a grip.”


      • And tech news should be “whimsical”?

        If one starts using words like “hate” and “sucks” for a rather mundane piece of news relating to the supported and unsupported LTE bands of one mobile, what type of language do you suggest should be used for things that are of real, more meaningful importance?

      • Kevin Fitchard

        Hi MK,

        I think there is a place for the whimsical in tech news writing. We’re a tech blog that interprets the news. We’re not Reuters and our aim isn’t to rewrite press releases. The whole point of the post is to show how the country that pioneered LTE is being excluded from Apple’s 4G launch. Yes, if I lived in Sweden and I wanted the latest iPhone I would say that sucks. And I bet a lot of people who actually live there do as well. As for the headline it’s meant to be humorous, which I thought was fairly obvious given I explain Apple’s reasoning for not supporting 2.6 GHz in detail in the post. AJ’s issue with the first commenter was that he/she was misinterpreting the piece.

        If you object to that kind of casualness in tech writing, I understand completely. GigaOM’s style isn’t for everyone.

      • During these few years that I have been reading tech blogs, I have noticed that news blogs with “reuters” kind of journalism are few and far apart. For something like that I’d go to tech section of some traditional newspaper or TV / radio channel. If possible, it should be one that is a bit “behind its times” so that it hasn’t yet replaced its old science-tech journalists with cool young-ish bloggers who write more crowd pleasing opinion piece articles based on recent news, than actually reporting just the dry facts.

        Gigaom seems to be anything but that old, dry but good newspaper-tech-section-type site. It’s not to say that I would find it bad journalism compared to those dry sections. I visit here rarely compared to some other tech blogs, but when I come here I’m usually happy to see readable, but not fanboyish blog posts. This post was one of those, I wasn’t particularly impressed nor disappointed after reading this article. It makes a point and it’s easy and reasonably light to read and it’s not written by a die hard fanboy. So far nothing to comment about.

        Then I came to comment section.

        Kevin, it’s always nice to see original blogger to participate in comment section. I’ve noticed that at least few Gigaom writers do this. What impressed me enough to write this was your response to “mk”. You explained your point of view and why you wrote about it in the way you did. After that you pointed out that neither one has to be wrong. This was enough for me to click on your name in “bio-box” and read two other of your articles. They were like this one. So, thank you. It’s always nice to find a blogger who is interested enough about his field to know much about it, to know enough to have opinions that aren’t based just on hype and PR., and most importantly still being able to write about those opinions and reply to comments without feeling the need to proclaim his view as the only right one that only heretics will question.

        Now, to get back to perspective, I will probably forget your name by tomorrow. I will remember that I read an article by this Kevin Fairbanks, Fairchild, or something. By next week your name won’t say a thing to me. I will however remember that Gigaom has some OK writers writing for them.

        OK article, nice comments by its author in comment section made it even better.

      • Kevin Fitchard

        Thanks FZ, I really appreciate that. I definitely read all comments and I try to respond to as many as I can. BTW, in the Reuters comment, I wasn’t trying to imply Reuters rewrites press releases. I was trying to say we don’t use the same style is different from Reuters, NOR do we rewrite press releases. I wasn’t trying to link the two. I apologize if anyone got that idea.

    • Kevin Fitchard

      Hi Rohit,

      Hmm, technically almost everyone in Europe has 1800 MHz. It’s the DCS band where everyone launched the first 2G networks. It’s just a question of having enough free to put together an LTE network. TeliaSonera uses 1800 MHz for LTE in its other countries like Latvia and Finland, and it recently won new 1800 MHz licenses in Sweden, so if it rolls that network out in the next year, it would be compatible with the new iPhone.

      As for India, yep. Apple skipped TDD completely on this version.

      • Kevin, this is not 100% true… In Europe every state has 900Mhz but only few has 1800Mhz that was used later mostly for in-city coverage… And yes there is TDD and FDD but this is another story…