Korean Carriers Reportedly Negotiating with Apple for 800/1800 MHz LTE Service on Next iPhone

Apple's next-generation iPhone is of course expected to support LTE connectivity in at least some markets, but given differences in LTE frequency bands around the world it is interesting to note that The Korea Times reports (via The Next Web) on comments from sources at current iPhone partners SK Telecom and KT claiming that they are currently in negotiations with Apple over LTE service for the forthcoming device.

"KT is in negotiation with Apple to persuade the latter to support KT’s 1.8-gigahertz frequency in Korea for the upcoming iPhone," said one senior KT executive, asking not to be identified. KT spokeswoman Kim Yoon-jeong declined to confirm.

The company, which joined the race for LTE-enabled smartphones later rivals SK and LG, is trying to persuade Apple to have its new iPhone support LTE connectivity, according to KT officials.

SK Telecom is also pushing for the same. Officials from the nation's biggest mobile carrier are currently in Apple headquarters in California to persuade Apple to support SK's LTE frequency for its local customers.

It is unclear, however, exactly what SK Telecom and KT are attempting to achieve in their efforts to "persuade" Apple to support their LTE frequencies on the next-generation iPhone, given that the hardware capabilities of the device have long been finalized. If the hardware does support the Korean carriers' frequencies and the negotiations are simply over contractual terms, it would suggest that there could be significant expansion of international LTE compatibility for the iPhone compared to the third-generation iPad.


The third-generation iPad supports LTE only over the 700 MHz and 2100 MHz frequency bands, with only a handful of carriers including AT&T and Verizon in the United States and Bell, Rogers, and Telus in Canada being supported for the device. With SK Telecom using the 800 MHz band as its primary LTE spectrum and 1800 MHz as a secondary band, and KT operating solely on 1800 MHz, the next-generation iPhone hardware would need to have new LTE frequency support for service on those carriers to even be possible. Notably, the 800 MHz and 1800 MHz bands are also the spectrum being used for LTE in Europe, Australia, and other markets, and thus hardware compatibility with those frequencies could significantly expand the number of countries and carriers on which the next iPhone could support LTE connectivity.

Top Rated Comments

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Avatar
104 months ago
I wish

I wish apple can create a chip that can:

Automatically change from 700 - 2300 mhz.

Support 2g/3g/4g/lte ...

Wifi 802.11ac

NFC / Bluetooth 4.0

This chip would change the world
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
104 months ago

I wish apple can create a chip that can:

Automatically change from 700 - 2300 mhz.

Support 2g/3g/4g/lte ...

Wifi 802.11ac

NFC / Bluetooth 4.0

This chip would change the world


That's not up to Apple. That's up to Qualcomm or whichever future baseband provider they want to use.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
104 months ago
Too bad there isn't a worldwide standard on frequencies. Not even the US has one.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
104 months ago
Dear Ofcom, please get off your lazy backsides and get moving with the UK 4G auction. By the time we get 4G in this country it will already be out of date. Grrrrrr :(
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
104 months ago

This is why all of the telecoms should have gotten together to agree on standards. When each carrier has different bands they operate on, it makes it difficult for phone makers. This is the same reason no one can agree on what 4G and LTE actually mean. The carriers just made it up as they went along.

The carriers didn't just "make it up as they went along." The frequencies are all over the map around the world because much of the LTE bandwidth was taken from other services that were already using it. For example, in the UK, a lot of the LTE bandwidth will come from the frequency where analog TV is. That means a lot of internal coordination needs to be done before LTE frequencies can be picked and assigned - the UK isn't going to turn off the BBC tv signal for its citizens in order to harmonize LTE with Singapore, for example, and the USA didn't pick the same frequencies as Europe because those EU frequencies are already used for something else in the USA (and vice versa). The carriers aren't at fault for the frequency assignment - that's the result of the fact that frequencies in different parts of the world are used for different things, some of which could be moved to other frequencies but others which are still so widely used that it's virtually impossible to refarm the frequency. Of course, some carriers in the world do deserve blame for delaying the introduction of LTE. In the UK, carriers have delayed the LTE auctions repeatedly by threatening to sue Ofcom because a decision wasn't to their commercial liking, forcing the regulator to hold off on auctions until the carrier squabbling can be resolved.

Since it's the same 800/1800 MHz bands used for LTE in the EU, I would presume this to be a no brainer.

Being in the same band doesn't make compatibility easy - a lot of AT&T and Verizon's LTE bandwidth overlap in the 700Mhz band but they're not compatible because they're tuned to different frequencies in the band. You need to have a specific antenna that tuned to the frequency, which adds cost and complexity to the device. This issue is also a wrinkle in any move to require carrier interoperability on the LTE band - if the FCC ever issue such a rule, all current LTE phones won't interoperate because none of them contain all the necessary antennas.

LTE frequency support is especially troublesome for Apple because it tries to have a single device that can sell globally and avoid regional hardware customization. Other device makers have no problem introducing country-specific phones but Apple has tried to avoid that although obviously, if the market is big enough they will do it, e.g. AT&T LTE iPad and a Verizon LTE iPad. Software radio frequency tuners have been in the works for years but it's still not commercially deployed.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
104 months ago

This is why all of the telecoms should have gotten together to agree on standards. When each carrier has different bands they operate on, it makes it difficult for phone makers. This is the same reason no one can agree on what 4G and LTE actually mean. The carriers just made it up as they went along.

But then again individual countries control and designate each spectrum to different purposes (e.g. Tv, radio, military) wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frequency_allocation). So it would be really difficult for a worldwide standard to be implemented. Analogue tv in Australia will be shut down soon and that band (700MHz) will be used for 4G.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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