Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has announced federal government approval of a bill that prevents electronics manufacturers from blocking 4G on compatible devices (via De Standaard). The bill was proposed by Economy Minister Johan Vande Lanotte in response to consumer complaints, and as a result, Apple may be forced to enable 4G connectivity on all 4G-compatible iPhone handsets sold in Belgium, regardless of carrier.
The ruling marks a big win for Belgian consumers, who complain Apple is playing favorites by only enabling 4G access for customers who purchase iPhones from the manufacturer's commercial partner Mobistar. Mobistar recently launched its 4G network and its coverage is still expanding.
Other carriers like Proximus and Base have active 4G networks, but have been unable to secure 4G approval from Apple, and customers who purchase a 4G-capable iPhone 5/5s/5c from these other carriers are limited to 3G service. This block only affects iPhone owners as Android owners with a 4G handset can access 4G services on all three major wireless carriers.
Apple may face stiff penalties if it fails to comply with the terms of this bill.