4G comes to iPhone on Vodacom

The next-generation broadband service is now available on the iPhone 5 in South Africa, but only on Vodacom's network. By Delano Stockhoff.

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iPhone 5 users now have access to next-generation broadband on their phones — provided they’re Vodacom subscribers.

Apple released an update to iOS, the operating system that powers the iPhone, on Monday that adds fourth-generation long-term evolution (4G/LTE) support to the iPhone 5 on Vodacom’s network.

It appears that iPhone 5 users on MTN, 8ta and Cell C will have to contend with 3G service for now.

It’s not immediately clear whether the update will add 4G/LTE support to iPad tablets on Vodacom that support the high-speed communications standard.

iPhone 5 customers who want to get 4G/LTE on their phones will need to visit a Vodacom store or phone the call centre to get their Sim cards provisioned for the service.

The newest Apple phone, which was launched in South Africa in December, didn’t support 4G networks at first because the company wanted to complete its own testing of them to satisfy itself they met its stringent quality requirements.

Apple vets the network of each operator that offers the latest iPhone individually before “provisioning” them for LTE and pushing a software update to the iPhone 5.

The vetting process takes about eight weeks, according to a South African industry insider.

The increased level of control on Apple’s part may stem, at least in part, from the “antenna-gate” debacle it faced with the iPhone 4, where many users and critics lambasted the company for poor call quality caused by problems with the antenna in the phone. At the time, Apple tried to shift the blame to network operators, with mixed success.

As the network itself is such a key aspect of end users’ experience, it’s perhaps not surprising Apple is flexing its muscles — after all, the company is not averse to calling the shots when it comes to how operators manage its devices. Apple doesn’t allow them to install any third-party applications before sale and operators are wary of leaks before the release of a new Apple product for fear of punitive measures being imposed on them.  — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media

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