Apple May Be Forced to Unlock 4G on All Compatible Belgian iPhones

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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.

iphone5s5c
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.

(Thanks, Pauline!)

Top Rated Comments

MikhailT Avatar
91 months ago
Wow, Apple. WTF?

I understand if there are technical reasons like incompatible bands/chipset but if there aren't, then there is no logical reason for Apple to do this.

If they're getting paid by that specific carrier to have 4G exclusivity, then Apple deserves every punishment coming. In fact, this should be the law across the globe.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Doolbr Avatar
91 months ago

Note taken, but I think Apple is asking them to meet certain capacity levels and power user levels. I have the feeling the other networks might be bigger, but cannot take the load of heavy iPhone users.

Heavy data users can make everything slow down or not even connect at all. I know my family typically uses about 6gb of data a month and my work phone another 4gb of data all by its self. AT&T considers me as a heavy user as we hit 10-12gb monthly.


Wrong assumption, Apple has an exclusive contract with Mobistar so Mobistar is the official local dealer selling iPhones in Belgium.
In Belgium, if you need certain capacity and power user levels, Proximus is the obvious choice, they have the best coverage, most stable and fast network and biggest capacity, this has been here for EDGE, 3G and now for LTE/4G they are way ahead of the competition. The second LTE network has been from BASE. Mobistar has just begon with their LTE network but it just doesn't even compare to the two other networks, and it might overtime get on par with BASE, but will never reach the capacity and quality of Proximus, because Mobistar will simply not invest that much in their network.

Also, good to know: Proximus paid Apple (not a small amount) to include the Proximus APN settings for LTE for their iPad with LTE. These devices can use LTE. This was just before 4G capable iPhones were launched/sold. Now Proximus says they don't have to pay again for the new iPhone as they have already given Apple the APN settings and paid for it (and in my opinion Proximus has a point here)
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Stroper Avatar
91 months ago

Hmmmm. Everything has a cost.
When I buy my 116i from BMW should the law force them to unlock the software so I can make it a 118i?
If you don't pay for it you don't get it. As long as they treat everybody how pays X amount the same they can do as they please.


Wrong analogy.
If you buy a BMW and it only drives with Petrol from Texaco, would be more correct. Or if it were a cheaper, subsidized by the carrier, phone. But nobody in Belgium buys a SIM-locked phone.

You can't buy an Simlock Free iPhone 5C and expect it to have the same internals as the 5S.
But if you buy a SIM-lock free phone for over € 500(be it a 5C or 5S) it should be truly sim-lock free.

Furthermore(I'm from Belgium), Mobistar doesn't even have an official 4G/LTE network to begin with. It's in public Beta, so regular customers can ask to test it(if they have to most expensive subscription), but only if they live in a big city with LTE-antennas.
Proximus & Base on the other have public available LTE networks that work.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
itr81 Avatar
91 months ago
Now the real reason behind this could be the other two networks have active 4G but not enough capacity to meet the needs of the iPhone user. I know some networks here in the US seem to have issues even on 3G let alone LTE.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
XW61982 Avatar
91 months ago

Wow, Apple. WTF?

I understand if there are technical reasons like incompatible bands/chipset but if there aren't, then there is no logical reason for Apple to do this.

If they're getting paid by that specific carrier to have 4G exclusivity, then Apple deserves every punishment coming. In fact, this should be the law across the globe.


Wait, except here in the USA, where corporations dictate the rules, not the people!
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mackan Avatar
91 months ago
Good, because it sounds disgusting to block a perfectly capable 4G device like that.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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