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4G may not be available for Apple right away

Kathmandu, December 28, 2016: Apple iPhone and iPad owners may not be able to use Nepal Telecom’s (NT) fourth generation (4G) service when it launches on Sunday as it is yet to synchronise its network with these US-manufactured smartphones.

The state-run telecom company is making final preparations to launch 4G service in the Kathmandu Valley and Pokhara from January 1.

It has been conducting test runs at various places in the Valley and Pokhara, allowing its employees to use 4G compatible phones on the 4G network.

Those who took part in the tests discovered that 4G service was inaccessible on Apple’s 4G devices, including iPhone and iPad.

“We couldn’t use 4G service even though our iPhones were 4G compatible,” said an NT engineer who asked not to be named. “It is because Apple has not given

permission to NT to operate the service on devices such as iPhone and iPad.”

Telecom operators all around the world must sign an agreement with Apple to enable their customers to use devices such as iPhone and iPad on their networks. NT apparently has not entered into such a deal.

According to an NT source, every telecom service provider has its own ‘location code’. Telecom companies must request Apple to enable this code. Users of iPhone and iPad can only use their devices on telecom networks whose location codes have been enabled by the American company.

This is one of the unique conditions introduced by Apple to ensure security, which is not applicable to other handset makers.

Pawan Kumar Bhimsaria, managing director of Generation Next Communications (Genxt), the authorised distributor of Apple for Nepal, confirmed that NT had not been able to use Apple devices on its 4G network.

“After facing difficulties, NT officials requested us on Thursday to coordinate with Apple to resolve the problem,” said Bhimsaria. “We forwarded the request to Apple headquarters and its office in Singapore on Friday.”

But the problem has not been addressed so far because of Christmas and New Year holidays. “It might take around 10 days to get a reply, after which the problem will be definitely resolved,” Bhimsaria said.

NT has around 200,000 mobile subscribers who use iPhones, among whom 170,000 subscribers use 4G compatible handsets. Apple’s iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5C, iPhone 6, iPhone 6S, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7+ are 4G compatible.

Shovan Adhikari, deputy spokesperson for NT, said he was unaware of the issue.

“We are in the final stages of launching 4G service in Kathmandu and Pokhara from January 1,” said Adhikari. “We will make sure all our customers using 4G compatible mobile phones can use our service after it is launched.”

By Bibek Subedi