Apple is running its own independent tests of European mobile operators' 4G-LTE network performance before greenlighting their sale of LTE-enabled iPhone 5 $699.99 at RadioShack handsets, according to a European tech site.
Telecoms.com reported Friday that Swiss carrier Swisscom recently confirmed the policy, which some in the telecom industry were "shocked" to discover.
"Apple only enables 4G access after testing their device on an operator's live network," Swisscom told Telecoms.com after the Swiss carrier fired up its 4G-LTE network this week. However, it wasn't able to make the LTE-enabled iPhone 5 available on it at launch.
One telecom industry consultant said he was surprised by Apple's policy and said it demonstrated "who is running the industry."
"Apple have put themselves in the driver's seat. it's really changing the game," NorthStream founder and CEO Bengt Nordstrom told Telecoms.com. Nordstrom questioned whether it was wise for a company "that does not invest in networks" to have veto power over the readiness of the 4G-LTE networks coming online in Europe.
Apple did not respond to a request for comment.
An Alcatel Lucent executive contacted by the site also described Apple as having gotten "a bit big for its boots," but added that overall, the extra testing of 4G-LTE networks was "a positive development" for the industry in Europe.
Alcatel Lucent CTO Marcus Weldon told Telecoms.com that the extra effort Apple is reportedly expending to assure 4G-LTE networks are everything they're cracked up to be could help counter the "low perceived value among many [European] end users" for the new high-speed data delivery technology.
Of course, Apple hasn't exactly been a first mover in embracing 4G-LTE in the first place. The iPhone 5 is the first iPhone from the company that's capable of accessing carriers' new high-speed data networks. It was released in the U.S. in late September, months after the arrival of 4G-LTE-capable devices from other smartphone makers.
And some of the LTE networks in Europe don't support the iPhone 5, anyway. Mobile phone operators in countries like Denmark, Norway, and Sweden have deployed LTE networks in the 2.6 GHz band, which Apple's new smartphone can't access.
The UK seems to have passed Apple's exacting standards for connectivity, as mobile operators EE unveiled the iPhone 5 on the country's first 4G network launched just last month.