Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) next-generation iPhone will have 4G LTE support around the U.S., Europe, and Asia, making the device compatible across several countries and network borders. While the functionality may not be available to all countries and carriers, the device will cover LTE networks spread across the globe, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
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According to one estimate, there are 36 LTE bands around the world, compared with 22 bands for the most popular version of 3G technology, making the faster technology much more fragmented than its predecessor. Manufacturers are faced with the challenge of having to build devices that support multiple bands of LTE. Apple is said to have used Qualcomm’s (NASDAQ:QCOM) LTE baseband chips in the sixth-generation iPhone that is expected to make its debut later this week.
Only three countries in the world — U.S., South Korea, and Japan — have a significant numbers of LTE customers, according to IDC data. Verizon (NYSE:VZ), with its nine million LTE subscribers, has the highest number of users of the high-speed network. South Korea’s SK Telecom (NYSE:SKM) is second with 2.75 million, and Japan’s NTT DoCoMo (NYSE:DCM) is third with 2.23 million.
Worldwide LTE support is a feature that newer Samsung smartphones have already had for a while. Apple’s first LTE-equipped device was the third-generation iPad, released in March this year, but it only had compatibility with Verizon and AT&T (NYSE:T) in the U.S. and Bell Canada (NYSE:BCE) and Rogers Communications (NYSE:RCI) in Canada. The tablet also created controversy in Australia over network compatibility issues, as it was advertised as being 4G-capable when it actually didn’t work on the country’s existing high-speed networks.
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