The fragmentation in LTE frequencies used by various carriers around the world has forced Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) to come out with three different versions of the iPhone 5, along with the possibility that it may have to add new models to sign on new carriers.
The GSM A1428 model, meant for North America, will run on AT&T (NYSE:T) and Canada’s Bell (NYSE:BCE), Rogers Communications (NYSE:RCI), and Telus (NYSE:TU) networks. It has LTE support for bands 4 (AWS) and 17 (700b MHz), but not CDMA. A second, CDMA model, called A1429, will support Sprint (NYSE:S) and Verizon’s (NYSE:VZ) networks in the U.S. and KDDI in Japan. CDMA carriers in India and Russia will also be able to support the device.
A third model, targeted for the rest of the world, supports GSM carriers that have added support for LTE on Bands 1 (2100MHz), 3 (1800MHz), 5 (850MHz). Those include Deutsche Telekom in Germany, Everything Everywhere in the U.K., Optus and Telstra in Australia, Softbank in Japan, SK Telecom (NYSE:SKM) and KT (NYSE:KT) in Korea, SmarTone in Hong Kong, and M1 and SingTel in Singapore.
There are also several other global LTE carriers that Apple could potentially support, though it hasn’t announced any new deals yet. T-Mobile, Cricket (NYSE:LEAP), and MetroPCS (NYSE:PCS) in the U.S. and Japan’s NTT Docomo can all run on existing models of the phone.
The fragmentation issue is not specific to Apple, with existing Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android LTE phones also being limited to 4G in specific markets. That means that even with apparent “global roaming” support, the devices are limited to 3G speeds while abroad.
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