Bureaucracy preventing French from getting LTE on their iDevices until year’s end

LTE chip

Owners of LTE-enabled Apple devices in France won’t get to enjoy the benefits of speedy cellular downloads before the end of 2013 amid lobbying between the country’s wireless carriers and the agency for telecommunications ARCEP.

The country’s local carriers like Orange and SFR last year spent to the tune of €1.2 billion, or approximately $1.6 billion, to acquire the 800MHz band.

The problem is, this radio frequency is supported neither by the iPhone 5 nor by many mobile devices from other vendors, including Samsung. Moreover, these carriers are now asking the ARCEP to wait until at least end of 2013 before refarming the 1,800MHz spectrum, which is compatible with Apple’s handset…

TechCrunch relays a Les Échos story:

Last July, Bouygues Telecom sent a request to the ARCEP to reuse its old 2G 1,800 MHz band for LTE communications. It would give a head start to the third largest telecommunications company. According to the French law, the ARCEP has up to eight months to reply.

Carriers Bouygues Telecom, Free, Orange and SFR will get to present their arguments to the ARCEP on Thursday, February 7.

The report goes on to note that Bouygues Telecom wanted to reuse its 1,800 MHz band in early 2013, but the ARCEP will “miss the mark” because carriers are “having a hard time laying out its 3G network and meeting ARCEP’s coverage requirements”.

That’s bad news for the owners of cellular-enabled iPhone 5, iPad 4 and iPad mini, which all support LTE networking. Apple last week released the iOS 6.1 firmware which expanded LTE support on 36 new carriers, including markets like Italy, Denmark, Switzerland and several Middle Eastern countries.

iPad 4G markting in Australia (before and after)

Last year, the iPhone maker had to change the “iPad Wi-Fi + 4G” name to the “iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular” variant due to limited availability of 4G in markets like Australia.

The complete list of supported LTE carriers is available on Apple’s web site.