I Want My LTE

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One of the features of the iPhone 5 is compatibility with LTE mobile networks.  If I’m not mistaken, that gives you internet connectivity at speeds up to 20 megabits per second, as opposed to the roughly 2 mbps I’m getting now on the 3G network.

(Hong Kong famously offers home internet connection speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second for around US$25 per month, but where I live, the best I can get is 8 mbps.  I can barely get the 3G network where I live, my phone usually drops back to 2G, but the notion of going somewhere on HK island and getting LTE speed with my laptop tethered to the phone is enticing.)

There are a couple of different bandwidths for LTE networks.  My mobile provider, 3, had one up and running that was compatible with Android phones.  Then I ready in mid October that they were ready with their iPhone-compatible network.

I went into a 3 shop to ask about this and they told me it would probably be ready in December and that they’d contact me.  On October 31st, I received an SMS that I would be upgraded to LTE on November 1st and that all I’d need to do would be to restart my phone, get the new carrier settings, and I’d be good to go.

On the morning of November 1st, I received another SMS confirming the upgrade.  Given the crappy signal where I live, I waited until I was in Central to restart the phone.  And then … nothing.  No new carrier settings, no LTE option, just 3G.

I tried again on November 2nd and 3rd with the same results.  I went to 3′s web site to see if there might be any instructions.  Nope.  But they have 24 hour online live chat, so I hit the link for that.  I explained my problem to the customer service person who responded by typing, “I see. Is it okay if I type in Chinese?”  No, it’s not.  So she said that someone would contact me within 24 hours.  Nice chatting with you!

Two days later when someone called me, they put the blame on Apple.  They said they’d done everything that they need to do and that it was Apple that had to send me the new carrier settings.  That made about zero sense to me, but I had no option except to say, “Oh, okay.”

I was in Central yesterday so I stopped into the Apple store.  I explained my problem to one guy there and showed him the confirmation SMS’s from 3 that said that I should have LTE now.  Soon I had about 5 different Apple employees all gathered round, all taking turns to see if they could figure out how to get me LTE.  I saw that on their iPhones, on the settings page, where I have a slider for “Enable 3G,” they had a slider for “Enable LTE.”  Finally the expert showed up.  After rebooting my phone 4 or 5 times and typing in some secret codes (I wish I was paying better attention at that point!), the “expert” told me that 3 probably hadn’t finished their LTE network for iPhone and that I could go to a 3 shop or just wait.

I’ve managed this long without LTE and I don’t need it.  It falls into the category of “nice to have.”  Regardless, it’s frustrating that 3 says that they think I have it now and that I’m caught between Apple and 3 pointing fingers at each other.  I’m not going to spend an hour on hold with 3′s customer service hotline, so further developments will have to wait until I’m somewhere in the vicinity of a 3 shop.

Do any of my readers in Hong Kong have LTE yet?

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6 thoughts on “I Want My LTE

  1. Nick Foxall

    F*ck 3…. they really are totally crap. Been on Smartone LTE since day one. Works like a charm… haven’t tried tethering tho.

    One thing you will find when (if) you do get on LTE; it drains the battery like nothing else.

  2. Chris

    Yes, LTE on SmarTone. I’ve gotten 26M down, 28M up with 38 ping on it. And usually close to that high.

  3. Mobile Network Comparison

    Do you know what frequency bands 3 use for LTE in HK? It is possible that it’s Apple’s fault (their phones deal with stuff like this really stupidly) although it’s much more likely that 3 have cocked up. Oh, and you should be able to get much more than 20Mbps down when LTE is fully up and running…

  4. Richard

    I have an iPhone 5 on Smartone. I’ve clocked over 30Mbps most tries from my office in Central and just had 28 from my house on Lamma (sure beats the 3Mbps I get through the broadband here!) It’s always over 20 but flicks between 3G and LTE here on Lamma and when walking around Central.

    1. Spike Post author

      Richard, I’m amazed that you get such great speeds on Lamma. I know that no mobile company has built out well for most of Sai Kung district.

      MNC, offhand I don’t know the answer to that. I think it’s more logical that it’s 3′s screw-up than Apple’s.

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