A number of recent reports from South Korea indicate that Apple may finally begin offering 4G support with its upcoming iPhone. According to the Korean Times, two major LTE providers in Korea, SK Telecom and KT, are currently engaging in talks with the Cupertino firm in an effort to promote their local 4G LTE networks. KT and SK Telecom are both authorized sellers of Apple’s handsets, and are known to use the 1.8 gigahertz LTE frequency and the 800 megahertz LTE frequency, respectively. It is suggested that Apple’s support of either networks will benefit the carriers’ customers, but may also lead to more intensified competition amongst the local mobile service providers in the country.
Considering how LTE networks are reportedly becoming more mainstream in Korea, it is rational to assume that Apple will put a lot of serious thought into the aforementioned offers. As indicated by the Korean Times, the absence of consistent 4G support was amongst the contributing factors that led to the new iPad’s declining sales within the country. Executives from KT stated that if the iPhone 5 were to opt against LTE connectivity support, the decision may also likely contribute to unimpressive sales, which may in turn slow the “momentum” of Korea’s local LTE market.
With the usual lack of statements from Apple, it is difficult at this moment to pinpoint the way the entire negotiation process will play out. Whether the two Korean telecomm companies were successful in their initial persuasion attempt is also undisclosed, given the lack of official comments regarding this matter.
Additional Issues to Consider
On a side note, it should be noted that 4G LTE, while offering superior speed compared to 3G, has been reported to have an adverse effect on a mobile phone’s battery life. If Apple does in fact come up with a 4G iPhone and incorporate the network frequencies of either of the two aforementioned telecom companies, there is no telling whether the battery life of the handset would, similar to the other phones out there, be compromised in the process.
Another interesting issue to consider is how Apple is going to cope with difficulty of supporting the various 4G frequencies around the world. One possible solution is Quacomm’s universal LTE chip MSM-8960, which can allegedly support seven different frequency bands. It is uncertain, though, if Apple will be using this chip for the new iPhone, should it decide to offer 4G support.