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Old Jan 24, 2014, 09:31 AM   #1
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Apple May Be Forced to Unlock 4G on All Compatible Belgian iPhones




Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has announced federal government approval of a bill that prevents electronics manufacturers from blocking 4G on compatible devices (via De Standaard). The bill was proposed by Economy Minister Johan Vande Lanotte in response to consumer complaints, and as a result, Apple may be forced to enable 4G connectivity on all 4G-compatible iPhone handsets sold in Belgium, regardless of carrier.

The ruling marks a big win for Belgian consumers, who complain Apple is playing favorites by only enabling 4G access for customers who purchase iPhones from the manufacturer's commercial partner Mobistar. Mobistar recently launched its 4G network and its coverage is still expanding.

Other carriers like Proximus and Base have active 4G networks, but have been unable to secure 4G approval from Apple, and customers who purchase a 4G-capable iPhone 5/5s/5c from these other carriers are limited to 3G service. This block only affects iPhone owners as Android owners with a 4G handset can access 4G services on all three major wireless carriers.

Apple may face stiff penalties if it fails to comply with the terms of this bill.

(Thanks, Pauline!)

Article Link: Apple May Be Forced to Unlock 4G on All Compatible Belgian iPhones
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Old Jan 24, 2014, 09:31 AM   #2
akron0488
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If only they would do this for the US.
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Old Jan 24, 2014, 09:35 AM   #3
Mackan
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Good, because it sounds disgusting to block a perfectly capable 4G device like that.
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Old Jan 24, 2014, 09:36 AM   #4
MikhailT
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Wow, Apple. WTF?

I understand if there are technical reasons like incompatible bands/chipset but if there aren't, then there is no logical reason for Apple to do this.

If they're getting paid by that specific carrier to have 4G exclusivity, then Apple deserves every punishment coming. In fact, this should be the law across the globe.
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Old Jan 24, 2014, 09:43 AM   #5
itr81
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Now the real reason behind this could be the other two networks have active 4G but not enough capacity to meet the needs of the iPhone user. I know some networks here in the US seem to have issues even on 3G let alone LTE.
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Old Jan 24, 2014, 09:44 AM   #6
Matam
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Well, 'til now, the phones sold here (belgium) are off contract (and no simlock), so, when buying iDevice, that's the unlocked price. But 'til now, even the "unlocked" was kind of "fully capable on specific network even if others are supporting the good frequencies and all (and considering all customers did pay the same price)".

So, that's a wonderful news. Hoping it'll be effective asap. For all networks.

But i do confirm that this 4G blocking, is really very frustrating, knowing that it could be enabled on jailbroken devices, so, without any technical limitation.

A few days ago a spokesman from Mobistar confirmed that *at first* there was an exclusivity, but it's been a few years since its over, so, they deny that they have "special treatment" from Apple. So, seems like it's all on Apple good will, that gives - or not - certification for 4G network and enable it - or not - on its equipment.
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Old Jan 24, 2014, 09:46 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by itr81 View Post
Now the real reason behind this could be the other two networks have active 4G but not enough capacity to meet the needs of the iPhone user. I know some networks here in the US seem to have issues even on 3G let alone LTE.
Well, Proximus (which is 1 of the biggest Belgian carriers) has had an LTE network for over a year now and is known (in Belgium) to have the best mobile network. Base came 2nd in the launch of 4G, they've only been serving it for about 4 months now. Mobistar was actually the last one to officially launch it's LTE network, about a month ago.

So I don't think capacity is the problem, it's more likely an exclusive agreement between Mobistar and Apple which only contains the iPhone, as 4G iPad's have been able to use all 4G carriers in Belgium without issues.
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Old Jan 24, 2014, 09:49 AM   #8
Matam
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Originally Posted by itr81 View Post
Now the real reason behind this could be the other two networks have active 4G but not enough capacity to meet the needs of the iPhone user. I know some networks here in the US seem to have issues even on 3G let alone LTE.
Well, the funny thing is that the one from mobistar is the smallest one.
Even more funny, is that the 4G network from mobistar will only be officially launched "starting in 2014" when the other mobile operator already have commercial offers and running networks....

still, all network only have quite limited 4G network, guess it'll only be "usable" country-wide in a year or two...
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Old Jan 24, 2014, 09:49 AM   #9
itr81
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Originally Posted by MikhailT View Post
Wow, Apple. WTF?

I understand if there are technical reasons like incompatible bands/chipset but if there aren't, then there is no logical reason for Apple to do this.

If they're getting paid by that specific carrier to have 4G exclusivity, then Apple deserves every punishment coming. In fact, this should be the law across the globe.
I think it may have to do with a capacity issue then just out right blocking 4G rights. AT&T in my area had poor 3G capacity until they converted their EDGE network to take up some of the burden. I now have less dropped calls in my house and I typically get 3-4 bars now ,when I use to get only 1 bar on 3G.
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Old Jan 24, 2014, 09:54 AM   #10
lotzosushi
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They should do this for PCCW network in Hong Kong as well. No iPhone 5/5S/5C devices are allowed to use the LTE network because Apple put a block on it. So lame.
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Old Jan 24, 2014, 10:00 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by MikhailT View Post
Wow, Apple. WTF?

I understand if there are technical reasons like incompatible bands/chipset but if there aren't, then there is no logical reason for Apple to do this.

If they're getting paid by that specific carrier to have 4G exclusivity, then Apple deserves every punishment coming. In fact, this should be the law across the globe.
Wait, except here in the USA, where corporations dictate the rules, not the people!
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Old Jan 24, 2014, 10:04 AM   #12
itr81
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Well, the funny thing is that the one from mobistar is the smallest one.
Even more funny, is that the 4G network from mobistar will only be officially launched "starting in 2014" when the other mobile operator already have commercial offers and running networks....

still, all network only have quite limited 4G network, guess it'll only be "usable" country-wide in a year or two...
Note taken, but I think Apple is asking them to meet certain capacity levels and power user levels. I have the feeling the other networks might be bigger, but cannot take the load of heavy iPhone users.

Heavy data users can make everything slow down or not even connect at all. I know my family typically uses about 6gb of data a month and my work phone another 4gb of data all by its self. AT&T considers me as a heavy user as we hit 10-12gb monthly.
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Old Jan 24, 2014, 10:07 AM   #13
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It's about time I get 4G on my iPhone 5s here in Belgium. It's just pathetic it has to go this way.
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Old Jan 24, 2014, 10:07 AM   #14
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Is it Apple?

I think its funny people assume that the Vendor of the phone is the one responsible for the locking. As if Apple likes to have to support and produce several different version software/hardware bundles. It would be in Apple's best interest to ship all phones unlocked as then they would require a single path through production & shipping.

i.m.o. Its obvious that the carriers are the ones that require locking since its in the carrier's best interest that a device be locked. Contractually Apple can probably not do anything about this other than stop selling their phones.
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Old Jan 24, 2014, 10:08 AM   #15
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Socialism rules.
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Old Jan 24, 2014, 10:08 AM   #16
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Apple are also doing the same thing in Russia. The iPhone is compatible with Russian LTE networks, but Apple won't allow it to connect to them, for no clear reason.
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Old Jan 24, 2014, 10:15 AM   #17
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its not true unless phil schiller tweets about it

but seriously this is embarrassing and pathetic that customers are treated like this.
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Old Jan 24, 2014, 10:15 AM   #18
itr81
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Originally Posted by bibi2205 View Post
Well, Proximus (which is 1 of the biggest Belgian carriers) has had an LTE network for over a year now and is known (in Belgium) to have the best mobile network. Base came 2nd in the launch of 4G, they've only been serving it for about 4 months now. Mobistar was actually the last one to officially launch it's LTE network, about a month ago.

So I don't think capacity is the problem, it's more likely an exclusive agreement between Mobistar and Apple which only contains the iPhone, as 4G iPad's have been able to use all 4G carriers in Belgium without issues.
We would have to look at what Apple requires for 4G to be unlocked on certain iPhones...until then we could be all guessing.

As for iPad's we would need to know how many people use their 4G daily vs people that only really use it on wifi. I have feeling iPad 4G usage is pretty low when compared to an iPad on wifi or typical iPhone user, but I could be wrong.
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Old Jan 24, 2014, 10:19 AM   #19
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It was an exclusivity agreement same as AT&T used to have as well as O2 in the uk.
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Old Jan 24, 2014, 10:21 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by itr81 View Post
Note taken, but I think Apple is asking them to meet certain capacity levels and power user levels. I have the feeling the other networks might be bigger, but cannot take the load of heavy iPhone users.

Heavy data users can make everything slow down or not even connect at all. I know my family typically uses about 6gb of data a month and my work phone another 4gb of data all by its self. AT&T considers me as a heavy user as we hit 10-12gb monthly.
Wrong assumption, Apple has an exclusive contract with Mobistar so Mobistar is the official local dealer selling iPhones in Belgium.
In Belgium, if you need certain capacity and power user levels, Proximus is the obvious choice, they have the best coverage, most stable and fast network and biggest capacity, this has been here for EDGE, 3G and now for LTE/4G they are way ahead of the competition. The second LTE network has been from BASE. Mobistar has just begon with their LTE network but it just doesn't even compare to the two other networks, and it might overtime get on par with BASE, but will never reach the capacity and quality of Proximus, because Mobistar will simply not invest that much in their network.

Also, good to know: Proximus paid Apple (not a small amount) to include the Proximus APN settings for LTE for their iPad with LTE. These devices can use LTE. This was just before 4G capable iPhones were launched/sold. Now Proximus says they don't have to pay again for the new iPhone as they have already given Apple the APN settings and paid for it (and in my opinion Proximus has a point here)
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Old Jan 24, 2014, 10:25 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by itr81 View Post
Note taken, but I think Apple is asking them to meet certain capacity levels and power user levels. I have the feeling the other networks might be bigger, but cannot take the load of heavy iPhone users.

Heavy data users can make everything slow down or not even connect at all. I know my family typically uses about 6gb of data a month and my work phone another 4gb of data all by its self. AT&T considers me as a heavy user as we hit 10-12gb monthly.
From my personnal experience, the worst i've had so far even in 3G was with mobistar, may it be on coverage, or on bandwidth. Moreover, the data cap on mobile phone data usage is quite low (and pricy). As per example, the highest "personal" subscription at Base is 59Ä for 6Gb/unlimited call/sms/Spotify included/1 hours for european call. For more modest users, there's usually 500Mb or 2Gb. I can't even think on how fast those would be eaten by 4G. For my personal use, i'd rather have a country-wide good 3G+ coverage (have had up to 18mbps in some places) than a poor 4G limited to some cities.

'finally, (and welcome to Belgium, we're not surrealistic for no reason), the capital (Bruxelles) isn't actually allowed to have 4G or a good 3G network because of a way too strict ruling regarding antenna emissions, whatever the network operator.
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Old Jan 24, 2014, 10:28 AM   #22
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They should do this for PCCW network in Hong Kong as well. No iPhone 5/5S/5C devices are allowed to use the LTE network because Apple put a block on it. So lame.
Since PCCW is owned by the Li's dynasty. I am pretty sure those jerks have something to do with that too.
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Old Jan 24, 2014, 10:35 AM   #23
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I think it will be interesting to see how Apple responds. Clearly there are marketing and licensing deals between Apple and each of the carriers, but once there is a deal in place, I had assumed all features came with it. This is the first I hear where apple has a deal for the phones with a carrier, but is disabling a specific feature because that requires a separate deal. My knowledge of the details is limited so I hope I am not mis-stating facts, but I highly doubt, as other have questioned on this thread that the carrier is the one preventing the use of 4G on the iPhone.
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Old Jan 24, 2014, 11:03 AM   #24
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What I don't understand is why Apple hasn't fought harder to get Proximus on it's side because they would have made an insane team instead of Mobistar.
I guess Proximus saw more money in Samsung.

Sometimes Belgian politicians decide the good thing apparently.
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Old Jan 24, 2014, 11:18 AM   #25
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Socialism rules.
this is not socialism, this is common sense and consumer's right.
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