Members of the UK telecommunications industry are concerned that support for the country’s 5G network may be limited in the upcoming “iPhone 12” release, fearing it does not include support for 700MHz networks.
It is believed that 5G will be an important feature for the iPhone 2020 series, with the new communication technology that promises high-speed connectivity to consumers. However, Apple’s popular iPhone may cause problems for some operators, depending on Apple’s implementation of the technology.
According to analysts who speak to The Telegraph, if Apple chooses not to include support for 700MHz 5G bands, this may prevent it from working fully with carriers that expand their network using it. Carriers are expected to participate in a 700MHz spectrum auction to take place in early 2021
Carriers had the opportunity to reuse existing unused spectrum they own for 5G communications, as well as to reuse bands that are already in use for the same purpose, but most chose to wait for the auction to obtain more. The problem is that carriers already have capacity with its existing allocations.
The exception from the carriers is apparently three, as the company already owns a significant amount of 5G spectrum in tapes that are expected to be usable by the iPhone. If the 700MHz band is not supported by Apple, this will give Three a significant advantage in the UK.
This will be a similar situation as one that happened during the launch of the iPhone 5, with operator EE as the only one in the market with sufficient 4G coverage to be reliable.
After the auction, the rollout of 700MHz 5G networks will be “pretty fast” according to 5G analyst Simon Rockman, “because the networks really need it.” The British telecommunications industry can talk about “lost opportunities” if Apple does not include 700 MHz support, Rockman suggests.
Lack of support for 700MHz could also lead to “coverage issues” for consumers, warns assembly analyst Matthew Howett. “The spectrum bands that the iPhone works with are crucial,” he said.
The talk of spectrum support may be very late in the day for UK operators given the expected launch of the new models on Tuesday. Since Apple has not given any indication as to which bands it will or will not support before the launch, it is possible the fear may be completely unjustified.
What is 5G?
Telecommunications known as 5G actually cover two different spectrum areas: Sub-6GHz and mmWave.
The sub-6 GHz bands, as mentioned above, will provide comprehensive coverage for carriers, with very durable bands used somewhat close to the areas currently used by carriers. This includes T-Mobile’s 600MHz-based 5G network, which practically only consists of 600MHz spectrum.
The 5G header speeds are provided by what is called mmWave, ranging from 24 GHz to 100 GHz, which can provide gigabit speed connections to users. However, mmWave signals are fragile, easily blocked by surfaces and even rain, and operate at much shorter distances.
For carriers, this means that mmWave 5G will be reserved for cities and built-up areas with high population density, while sub-6 GHz bands will be used for carpet coverage. All of it can be classified as 5G, with most consumers using the slower version most of the time, and the higher band version where available.