ITEM: Hong Kong cellco CSL fully expects the iPhone 5 to be a major tipping point for LTE in terms of adoption and data usage – as soon as the device is actually cleared for LTE 1800 usage on CSL’s network, that is.
That doesn't mean CSL customers can’t use the iPhone 5, but they’ll have to use it on the cellco’s existing 3.5G network while CSL finishes puts the iPhone 5 through its paces in the testing phase for LTE 1800 (as per its commercial arrangement with Apple), says CSL chief marketing officer Mark Liversidge.
“We’re in the progress of testing it on LTE 1800, and we envisage it will take another four to six weeks to complete, at which point we’ll be satisfied alongside our partners at Apple that the experience on LTE 1800 is optimal, at which point all the customers who already have devices will get an automatic over-the-air switch-on of that capability,” Liversidge told your reporter.
In other words, they can still use the iPhone 5 on CSL’s DC-HSPA+ network, and while it won't work on LTE just yet, they'll get by just fine on 3.5G until it’s ready.
Liversidge stresses that CSL has been very up-front about this since the iPhone 5 was announced, and that its front-line staff will let punters know that the device won’t support LTE initially.
Liversidge added further that the testing phase for devices is usually 10-12 weeks, but that Apple’s timelines and processes are not quite the same as other handset makers, “and that does create some challenges at times.”
Meanwhile, Liversidge says that he fully expects the iPhone 5 to serve as a major tipping point for LTE take-up and data consumption, which is reflected in the cellco’s decision to revamp its LTE price packages in terms of data caps rather than price.
“The package prices remain the same, but in terms of data allowances, we’ve effectively doubled up on many of them, so what was a 500MB plan is now 1GB, for example,” Liversidge says. “We’ve also increased the FUP [fair use policy] limit on the unlimited plan from 5GB to 6GB for the iPhone plan itself.”
While Liversidge says the iPhone 5 will be a major factor in taking LTE usage to the next level, he also gives credit to the Samsung Galaxy range of LTE devices.
“We’re bringing Samsung’s LTE devices on the platform as well, and now that the iPhone has joined that, we will start to see through the final quarter of this year through to the first half of 2013 more aggressive uptake by consumers of LTE devices in general and transition to the LTE platform,” he says.