France will have a 4G Network for the iPhone 5

Sep 19, 2012
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We don’t often cover Apple news on the Rude Baguette – we leave that to bloggers who have no more interesting topics to write about. When Apple announced the specs on its latest iPhone 5, all the headlines read like this one from Reuters “Apple’s iPhone 5 puts Europe in 4G Slow lane.” How come? Because, while various European Telecom providers have been buying up 4G frequency licenses in the past year or so in anticipation of 4G adoption, the essentially were instructed to buy the wrong frequencies (or, equally annoying, Apple did not create a version of the iPhone 5 compatible with European 4G frequencies).

In short, European 4G frequencies, as suggested by the EU commission, are mostly in 800 & 2600Mhz, while the iPhone 5 (and most US 4G networks) on on the 1800Mhz frequency. A few major telecom companies made the steep investment starting this past summer (presumably when they were informed their frequencies would not work with the iPhone 5) and began developing new frequencies. Orange has been reported in the UK to be rolling out a compatible 4G network. Deutsche Telekom also has the right frequency, though they’ve been in some PR scandals recently, having sent their customers to an Adult Dating Hotline instead of the customer service hotline.

And the winner is…. Bouygues!

This week, Les Echos posed some interesting questions and announced something great – there may actually be 4G in France. Bouygues Telecom has announced that it is converting it’s old 2G network to the 4G network, and it will likely be ready by the end of 2012 (the same dates given by Orange in the UK and Deutsche Telekom in Germany). This means that Bouygues Telecom will essentially have a monopoly on the iPhone 5 – not insofar as they will be the only ones able to sell the phone, but they will be the only ones able to market the fact that they offer the 4G network, and thus allow users to use the iPhone to its full potential.

Orange, according to the same Les Echos article, is likely undergoing the same conversion (much easier than building an entire new network), because, while there are not many 2G Bouygues customers, most of the 2G network users in France are on Orange, which at one time was the only mobile offer in France. Free has no 2G network, but likely does not have a spare network to convert, as they are currently renting Orange’s network to support users.

We will likely here of 4G networks to pop up before the end of 2012, or early 2013 by both Orange France and SFR – hopefully Free’s contract with Orange to use their network through 2016 also includes any eventual 4G networks that pop up, as well.