It turns out Apple is keeping a very tight hold on who it allows to sell the iPhone 5 as an LTE device, making sure their networks are up to snuff before allowing the devices to work at high speeds.
This is based on a report from Telecoms.com, who claim that Apple will individually test the carrier’s LTE network to see if it’s up to scratch before allowing the sale of the device. A spokesperson for Swisscom admitted as much, saying “Apple only enables 4G access after testing their device on an operator’s live network.”
Apparently, until Apple puts the LTE network through its own, independent, and rigorous tests, they’ll only allow the iPhone 5 to function over 3G, and then will release updated firmware to enable the LTE when appropriate.
You have to wonder if the reason for this came from how famously poorly the AT&T network handled the original couple of iterations of the iPhone, and how it buckled under the heavy data use of smartphones. By ensuring the LTE networks are up to standards, Apple is making sure that iPhone users actually get a decent experience.