back to article New iPad 4G data connection will only work in America

One of the main new features in Apple's just-announced third iPad is 4G mobile networking: but keen fanbois planning to purchase it should note that the new fondleslab will only be able to achieve 4G connection in North America for the foreseeable future. Even in the States it won't be able to change networks. The "New iPad" …


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  1. TechnicianJack

    Siri doesn't work outside America, 4G doesn't work outside America, anything else Apple?

    1. g e


      You mean there's "stuff" outside of America?

      Say it ain't so!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What?

        @g e

        Exactly, we can't even get Google Music outside the US!

      2. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

        Re: What?

        Disgraceful, how dare anyone use a standard other than a merkin standard,

        global warming, climate change, this what happens when sheeple don’t use merkin statndards, I read that pedophiles are trying to control our lives. It is vital that we call in the army now. What would Churchill say?!?! somebody should introduce zero tolerance. we need less emotion and more backbone in this country!!

        Appalled, in the house next door to yours.

    2. Giles Jones Gold badge

      What rock have you been hiding under if you think 4G is in the UK?

      Honestly, if Apple stalls and releases 3G late (iPhone 1) then people complain. If Apple gives you 4G too early you complain.

      Anything using radio frequency always creates problems when deployed elsewhere. So many countries have different TV and radio systems so it's always hard to create a standard that works around the world.

    3. James Katt

      Siri works outside of America

      Siri works in:

      1. Great Britain

      2. France

      3. Germany

      4. Japan

      5. Australia

      1. M7S

        Re: Siri works outside of America

        Not really, according to Apple.....

    4. Nikolaus Heger

      One more thing: Whining seems to be alive and kicking outside America.

      It sounds like the whole 4G "standard" is once again an unmitigated mess where "anyone is allowed to do anything" which means we will have to wait a few years before all-in-one-all-frequency 4G chips become available.

      Took a while with 3G, too - only the iPhone 4 / 4S could actually operate on all 3G bands. Not due to Apple but rather due to the availability of integrated chipsets.

      What other devices work on all 4G bands world-wide? Oh yeah - none. As 4G is only implemented in a few places around the world.. America probably needs 4G the most and will implement it first on a large scale as the US 3G network is really a complete and utter disaster. Verizon uses CDMA-EVDO which is dead slow and can't do data and voice simultaneously. And AT&T's 3G network drops voice calls (pretty much have to go to America for that experience), is slow as snails, and has huge coverage holes in the middle of major metropolitan areas. E.g. I was in San Francisco and had 0 bars on AT&T in the middle of the city. Long story short the US carrier duopoly is going to roll out 4G as fast as they can - they need to.

      Elsewhere, 3G works pretty well, no urgent need for 4G.

  2. JetSetJim

    New small print

    Despite touting the "iPad with Wi-Fi + 4G" model iPad working on Vodafone, Orange, O2 and Three as "Connects to the Internet over Wi-Fi and 4G networks. For service from a wireless carrier, sign up for a simple, month-by-month tariff on your iPad and cancel anytime without penalty.", underneath, in a paler greay font is the text:

    "The iPad with Wi-Fi + 4G model can roam worldwide on GSM/UMTS networks. When you travel internationally, you can also use a micro-SIM card from a local carrier. In countries without compatible 4G LTE networks, the new iPad will operate on GSM worldwide network technologies such as HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA."

    I expect many a disappointed punter.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: New small print

      Why? In practical terms the new iPad supports HSPA 42Mbit/s which is getting ready to launch here in the UK (I know at least Three is turning it on this summer)

      Many punters will be more satisfied that they can use this rather than some theoretical LTE support that isn't even close to being available.

      Also according to the ITU - who set the standards on these things - HSPA 42Mbit/s is 4G. But let's not go into that discussion.

      1. JetSetJim

        Re: New small print

        Ignoring the "ITU are being led by operator marketing wonks on defining 4G" argument, the Apple blurb touts LTE as 4G, not HSPA. If I'm sold a "4G LTE" device, I expect to be able to use it on an LTE network - it's a shame that all the spectrum politics will make it difficult/impossible/expensive to make a global LTE device right now. Personally, I'm tempted to complain to the ASA about the UK marketing of it as a 4G device when it won't run on any UK LTE network when they get round to deploying them (next year at the earliest apart from that Swindon deployment?) - but considering recent ASA verdicts I doubt they'll do anything.

        1. Bill Ray (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: Re: New small print

          ...and just in case there was any doubt. The new iPad won't be able to use UK Broadband's 3.5GHz LTE either, in Swindon or anywhere else.


          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: New small print

            Well that's not a surprise since they aren't even using standard LTE, but TD-LTE over on that UK Broadband trial. It's not just the frequency.

            You'll be hard pressed to find any device that supports it, since it's the only place in the world with it.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    6 iPad stories on the front page of El Reg today

    Is this a tech magazine, or a shill for Apple?

    I get that a new generation of fondleslab is exciting to the fanbois, but please, lets have some perspective here journos.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 6 iPad stories on the front page of El Reg today

      And which other big tech stories have broken overnight which you would rather took precedence?

    2. Magnus Ramage

      Re: 6 iPad stories on the front page of El Reg today

      I think it's fair enough, actually. I have never owned an Apple product (not deliberately, I just can't afford them) but by any account the iPad has had a major impact on portable computing, so a new version is a significant event in tech news. Perhaps 6 stories is a couple too many, but at least the Reg doesn't slobber about Apple news in the way the Guardian (atrociously) and the BBC (noticeably) do.

  4. Stephen 2

    4g in Germany

    Is it not possible that Apple would release a different hardware ipad for Germany that matches their frequency? Or is that kinda big deal?

    1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

      Re: 4g in Germany

      Given the complexity of antenna-theory, you're in a lot of trouble if you don't design for the frequencies you use - especially in a small, low-powered, portable device that wants to operate at high-speed.

      That's not to say they haven't, but it would seem weird for them to arrive at a generic design for all those frequencies and then not release it using all frequencies it was designed for. It's probably NOT just a case of switching a chip for a pin-equivalent (if it even exists), but a whole new range of FCC / CE certifications as to whether the radio emissions are valid and within limits. The fact that Apple are selling the device already means they've already done those and the design is pretty "locked" into the frequencies.

      So to create an EU revision, you're looking at new chips (hopefully as simple as just soldering on a different one, but maybe not if they rely on external crystals, etc.), new antenna (possibly), new certifications, and then production on that model to the point you can supply the EU with it. That's a HECK of a lot of work. I'm not saying Apple won't do it, but it would appear unlikely given that they have already started selling the "US" version over here anyway - it would cause merry hell if you could pick up two seemingly-identical iPads in Dixons and find out that one can get 4G over here and one can't.

      Looks like they just said "Oh, feck it, that's close enough" and decided against 4G functionality that was in any way different to the US versions.

  5. Andy Miller


    Surely something as country specific as the wireless hardware layer should be on some kind of plugable module, so you can swap it as easily as the battery?

    1. Miffo

      Re: Plug-in

      Trying to figure out if this is an ironic joke or not considering you can't change the battery easily on Apple stuff!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Plug-in

        Umm, check the icon (hint: it's the 'joke' icon).

        1. Andy Miller

          Re: Plug-in

          As AC notes, irony was intended.

          Can I name a mobile phone that has done this? No.

          Can I name a laptop that does this? Yes - lots. It's called a USB dongle. If you pull it out whilst you are using the data connection, your application dies.

          Think I read a review of a slab that supports just such a plug-in 3G dongle - probably here...

    2. Charles 9

      Re: Plug-in

      Most chips, especially on portable hardware, have to be soldered on to prevent them jostling loose. The only things that are not are the pieces that are necessarily loose such as the SIM slot. Plus, if what I read is correct, tuning to certain LTE frequencies requires a delicate coordination of tuner, antenna, and other things that make a one-size-fits-all solution difficult.

    3. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Re: Plug-in

      Name a mobile phone that has ever done this? none. What if you removed the module with the phone on? what if someone removed the module then stuck their finger in there or something metallic? these are some reasons why.

    4. Slabfondler

      Re: Plug-in

      Have you tried swapping an iPad battery lately? Apple says don't bother

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    America is the center of the Universe (in the same way the Arse-Hole is the center of the Body).

    1. Aaron Em


      Just like assholes, in fact -- sure, we may be full of shit, but you know you can't get by without us.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yep!

        What have asses done to you? Given you a big kick and then brayed about it at the pub?

        Or are you just covering your arse?

  7. g e

    No digital tuning?

    Surely the LTE module/chip is digitally tunable? Perhaps the cheap ones aren't or something.

    Or maybe the antenna's are too band-specific, 700-800 is quite a difference in RF and we know what apple are like with antenna design...

  8. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Down


    Fondleslab 4G signal here in Australia, all the way from America!

    Oh, hang on...

  9. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Typical Yanks


    2.6GHz is harmonised around the world

    So where is the 4G network in the US at this frequency?

    It was the same with GSM at the beginning. Everywhere(almost) but the USofA....

  10. D. M

    USofA is not part of the world

    Don't you watch Futurama?

  11. Khaptain Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Obvious really

    The USA has a larger PrOn consumption/industry than any other country, therefore they require the LTE before everyone else in order to retain their leadership within this particular field....

  12. Alan Edwards

    3G is NOT single band

    3G is most definitely not in a single band internationally.

    Just about everywhere uses the 2.1Ghz band, but the same standard (W-CDMA) is on 850Mhz, 1700Mhz and 1900Mhz in the USA. It was at 900Mhz too, but I think that's died out now.

    The iPad has 850/900/1900/2100Mhz 3G - the only place it won't work is T-Mobile at 1700Mhz, there it's restricted to EDGE speeds.

  13. KAMiKZ

    I knew it!! I was looking for a comprehensive map of "4G' whatever that means deployment of the world, I couldnt' reallly find one, but based on all that I can read about, only the US, Sweden have "4G", with the swedes' much faster. That's about it. ---

    jesus, I thought my complaining about having to buy an 8 euro plug adapter down at BHV in Paris was bad.... say, most of the world now having heard the horn from Apple about 4G will now pushing for it harder, so they will get all their license or whatever ready in 2012, and by the end of the year, signal tower building commences, and let's say they go to pace of Chinese show-off-ism, by the end of 2013, most of the world should have some kind of 4G, And maybe by that time, Apple's iPad 5 will be able to deal with all the fragmented 4G standards and claim king

    The Widest Band iPad.


  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So the fact..

    that the two mobile operators are using different frequencies is Apples fault is it? Genius. Nothing like letting the facts get in the way of a bit of Apple bashing huh? I suppose its also Apples fault that theres no 4G network in the UK as well?

    1. P Zero

      Re: So the fact..

      Boohoo. Apple traditionally waited for something to work before implementing it into their hardware. Isn't that what Steve Jobs wanted? "Perfectly" formed craftsmanship on something that "just works." Standards are slipping at Cupertino, and only after you've invested shitloads into their application market.

  15. Tim Hale 1

    I'm outraged I won't be able to use my new iPad on one of the many nation-wide 4G networks here in the UK. Oh, wait.

    Where I live (next to, but not actually in, the sticks) there still isn't even 3G!

    The iPad 5 will be out long before 4G makes any difference here and if 3G is anything to go by it'll be a great many years after that for me.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    if I buy a "4G" version here will it work in US/Canada?

  17. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge


    The main thing I've learnt from this article is that LTE is a bit of a shambles.

  18. Gil Grissum

    So if you're buying an iPad with LTE on either network (Verizon or AT&T) hoping to be able to travel through Europe and use it, it seems to me that WiFi makes more sense than paying for a second data plan that you can't even use outside the USA. It doesn't even make sense to have a second data plan IN the USA, unless you have more money than sense. WiFi is everywhere these days. Save the money. WiFi is all you need in that iPad.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You can still use it outside of the US on 3G networks up to 42Mbit/s.

      The iPad is also unlocked so just pop in a PAYG SIM card when you're over on those countries.

  19. mrfill

    Great money saving plan

    I'm afraid wifi is not actually 'everywhere'. In France it is illegal to operate wi-fi equipment outside for a start. In the UK, free open wifi is quite rare. You may be able to pick up a dozen signals but will you have the keys for all of them?? Clue: No.

    A rather better money saving idea would be to not buy a vastly overpriced touch screen netbook. Depending on the model chosen you could save up to £649.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Great money saving plan

      WiFi in France - The restriction is on the WiFi power levels used by devices, not that WiFi is itself is illegal...or else how would you explain this...

      And this helpful signpost on how to use WiFi in a parisian park.

  20. JeffyPooh

    Wide frequency range is "so" difficult...

    As noted above, the Apple RF Modules & Antenna Department is staffed by idiots.

    Even if they don't know how to design a high performance moderately wide band antenna system, there's bags of room inside an iPad to install half a dozen different elements. For gosh sakes, even little tiny mobile phones can cover four bands.

    This is the same Apple that won't provide GPS unless you buy the LTE version of iPad?

    Typed on an iPhone 4S. :-)

    1. simon_saunders

      Re: Wide frequency range is "so" difficult...

      It;s not the wide frequency range, it's the close proximity of the ATT and VZW bands which need very careful (and expensive) filtering. No-one is doing this, it;s not just Apple.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wide frequency range is "so" difficult...

        Hmm. Do you care to expand on this?

        In their previous guise as TV channels, 1 TV could happily pick up both, and AFAIK there are not different 3G phones for 3, O2, T-Mobile, Vodafone and Orange and their 5MHz are adjacent, so would you care to elaborate on why operating in 700 band upturns the laws of physics?

  21. parityerror

    But what if...

    you could watch Freeview on the iPad!?

  22. sdonaldson

    U mad bro?

    Oh, boo hoo! For once America gets something before the UK and suddenly all you Brits have your knickers in a knot. Get over it or get bent.


  23. simon_saunders

    Two LTE 700 bands


    It's not that the ATT and VZW bands are too far away, it's that they are too close, and separating the uplinks and downlinks requires a really big expensive filter.


  24. Stephen Bouvier

    Is mobile LTE the wrong place to start?

    Typing this post from Nowheresville in the middle of the former GDR -- a village outside Dresden -- I'm puzzled by a lot of the debate around LTE in the U.K.

    No surprise that the 4G auction is a mess with the network operators playing the role of squabbling, self-destructive children.

    What surprises me is the starting point that LTE should be rolled out as a mobile technology. Here in my bit of Saxony we have no quick DSL access. The best Telekom can offer is 2,000 k/Bit download, although the offer is rendered more attractive by the prospect of dirt-cheap ISDN and even cheaper Europe-wide call packages. VDSL is a non-starter here because no-one wants to invest in upgrading the fixed-line network -- unlike the British approach -- when there is a cheaper alternative on the horizon.

    And that cheaper alternative is LTE. Next week, thanks to a supplementary aerial, I will be trialling a Vodafone LTE package. My friendly local telephony engineer will source all the equipment, and take care of the installation, so as to get me up and running with 50 M/bit downloads and an Up- and Download allowance of 30 G/bit per month. O.K., so that is not quite unlimited downloading from Piratebay, but that I can do, if I'm so inclined, using the slower DSL line over night.

    The networks are in the process of rolling out LTE handsets. Frankly, other than downloading email and checking news websites, I tend to do my surfing at home, so I'm not sure that the ability to play Doom on the move, thanks to LTE's reduced latency times, is much of a help.

    Where LTE does help me is in bridging the gap between a cable connection that will never happen, DSL that is frozen in time, and a 21st-century broadband connection.

    The trouble is that I don't think this state of affairs could ever exist in the U.K. The kind of installer who will fit aerials to homes tends not to be on the radar; in the U.K. we'd much rather wait for a mast to be built and then complain that the radiation from it has fried the cat.

    And the operators, instead of seeing LTE as a way to stuff BT over their historically imperfect access to the fixed-line network, simply see the LTE as a way to act out historical disputes between each other over spectrum allocation.

    Hate to say it, but the future is the former GDR.

    1. erwr

      Re: Is mobile LTE the wrong place to start?

      Great thread

    2. erwr

      Re: Is mobile LTE the wrong place to start?

      It doesn't even make sense to have a second data plan IN the USA, unless you have more money than sense. WiFi is everywhere these days. Save the money. WiFi is all you need in that iPad.

  25. Gabriel

    LTE, WiMAX, HSPA+ not 4G

    The ITU did *not* relax its requirements for 4G.

    It considers IMT Advanced as 4G, nothing else.


  26. Jon182

    HSPA+ will be good enough

    I'm not bothered about LTE, Orange and T-Mobile are rolling out HSPA+ this year.

    LTE frequencies are a mess, looks like EE wil have the first LTE network in the UK - at 1800 Mhz!

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