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Will new iPad run on Korea’s LTE networks?

By Korea Herald

Published : March 9, 2012 - 19:31

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Questions are arising not only about the new iPad’s launch date but also about its fourth generation network compatibility in Korea after Apple introduced it during an event in San Francisco on Thursday.

The latest iPad, which boasts “ultra-fast wireless speeds,”is customized to run not on the 4G Long Term Evolution network, but on the 700 megahertz and 2.1 gigahertz wireless broadband spectrums used by U.S. mobile carriers Verizon and AT&T.

The finding not only impacts Korea, a country currently equipped with LTE networks nationwide using the 800 megahertz and 1.8 gigahertz wireless broadband spectrums, but also most of the nations listed on Apple’s primary list for the new iPad release.
A new Apple iPad is on display during an Apple event in San Francisco, Wednesday. (AP-Yonhap News) A new Apple iPad is on display during an Apple event in San Francisco, Wednesday. (AP-Yonhap News)

“I took a look at the first 10 countries receiving the iPad this month, but all of them were servicing LTE networks on other wireless broadband spectrums other than Canada and the U.S.,” said an industry source.

Steve Park, spokesman for Apple Korea, was not available for comment on the issue.

Most European countries such as the U.K., France and Germany are now using the 800 megahertz and 2.6 gigahertz ranges, different from the U.S. mobile carriers.

The three European nations are among the list of 10 countries ― including Hong Kong, Australia, Canada, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore and Switzerland ― receiving the new iPad on March 16.

Apple’s second list of countries getting the latest iPad by this month featured 25 countries, but excluded Korea, the world’s most wired nation, once again as it did in the past.

“We’re currently in talks with Apple regarding the iPad roll out,” said an official at SK Telecom, the nation’s top mobile carrier.

There are some alternative ways that can make the LTE release in Korea possible, like inserting a multi telecommunications chip. However, the official said it was a move and decision which has to get Apple’s green light.

Jan Dawson, a telecommunications analyst at U.K.-based consulting firm Ovum, told the New York Times that the complicated issue with LTE for Apple is that iPad needs to be offered on LTE networks with spectrum bands that are different from country to country.

He said the U.S.-based IT giant will have to manufacture multiple models to be compatible with each different band ― customization which the firm has been trying to avoid with the iPads and iPhones.

“Does Apple say we’re supporting U.S. LTE for now and risk alienating potential customers outside the U.S.?” he asked. “Or does it say we have to make multiple different units in different parts of the world, which goes against the way they’ve been working recently of creating a single device?”

By Cho Ji-hyun (sharon@heraldcorp.com)