Apple calling the shots on LTE performance?

According to a report in telecoms.com, Apple is refusing to offer its newest iPhone 5 as an LTE device unless operators can pass a number of stringent network performance tests set by the leading device manufacturer.

On first look, the story would seem to point to the growing influence and control device manufacturers like Apple are exerting over network operators.  Some use the story as further evidence that operators are being relegated to the status of dumb pipes. But in another way, the story highlights the importance of device manufacturers and network operators working together to deliver the best possible experience for mobile customers. One thing that has helped Apple to become one of the World’s leading technology companies is its obsession on the user experience, spanning everything from its tightly closed OS to the design of its products.

Is it not a good thing for consumers that companies like Apple would want to ensure that their devices perform to the highest standards on new and emerging LTE networks? Our own experience has shown that new devices introduced to the network can exhibit different behavioral characteristics that have the potential to impact on the customer experience. Initial evidence is suggesting the same for LTE devices and services (See LTE: Learning from the mistakes of the past)

We all know there is a relentless release of mobile operating systems, app updates, and brand new apps. The responsibility of ensuring that the quality of customer experience is consistently good requires more than an initial pre-quality check.

With the huge growth in smartphone adoption over the last few years, we have seen the emergence of a tightly connected ecosystem consisting of operators, device manufacturers and 3rd party app providers, all of which depend on each other to deliver the best possible user experience.

Network operators need to work with device manufacturers and 3rd party app providers to ensure that all devices in use on their LTE networks are optimized from a performance perspective.  They are in a particularly advantageous position where they can measure and monitor the actual experience customers receive when using different combinations of devices and applications across various customer segments and locations.  This is powerful live information to share with 3rd parties, not only to optimise the user experience, but also to drive new revenues and open up new business models.

As the pace of LTE adoption gathers speed, customers are expecting faster speeds and better performance combined with a more enhanced user experience.  To meet these expectations, network operators, handset manufacturers and 3rd party app providers have a shared responsibility to work with each other, regardless of who calls the initial shots.

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