Why Is Apple Secretly Installing LTE Equipment In Retail Stores Ahead Of The iPhone 5?

Why Is Apple Secretly Installing LTE Equipment In Retail Stores Ahead Of The iPhone 5?

Well, this is juicy! Following yesterday’s report that Apple was already testing an LTE-equipped iPhone with carriers comes this insider photo, showing that AT&T is secretly installing LTE equipment in at least one retail Apple store. Whoa!

Engadget writes:

We’ve received the image you see above, which shows some 4G LTE equipment that was recently installed in a major Apple store — by AT&T, according to our source. Making things somewhat more interesting is the equipment itself, one piece of which supports only the 700MHz and AWS bands — both of which AT&T plans to use for its LTE network if the T-Mobile acquisition goes through.

We’re also told that the Apple Store in question, and all those in the region, are now trying to increase staffing on the sales floor by about 30 percent, which is apparently not related to the usual hiring in the lead up to the holidays (that will apparently still happen later). Of course, this could simply be the result of some long-term planning rather than evidence of the next iPhone, but the timing is a bit curious to say the least.

I don’t think that the next iPhone will have LTE for a second: AT&T and Verizon simply haven’t penetrated enough American markets for this to be a major selling point, yet. In addition, the hardware still drains battery like a mofo. But if LTE isn’t coming with the iPhone 5, what is this LTE hardware for then?

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  • Barton Lynch

    PLEASE let Apple have the 2nd gen LTE chips early!

  • Aj Tk427

    AT&T and Verizon aren’t the only companies offering LTE.  Just because it’s not widespread now does not mean that other countries don’t support it.
    Also, isn’t LTE in a major push for this year and into next.  Most iPhones are bought on contract meaning that those people that buy the iPhone 5 will not be upgrading till the 7 most likely.

    I agree that Apple would probably avoid LTE if it’s a major drain on battery, doesn’t mean that they haven’t found a solution.

    I mean, you’ve been more supportive of iPad 3′s being released this year with no evidence at all! But this you throw away as Apple not supporting LTE in the iPhone5 as cold hard fact.
    Sorry but I would guess that there is a higher probability of Apple supporting LTE than a Retina Display iPad 3 coming out in 2011

  • Chris Smith

    Maybe the iPad will support it.

  • Aj Tk427

    New iPad not being released probably till next year in Apples usual fashion.

  • Jeff Duncan

    I got an update for an app called VoiceTra by NICT. In the 3.4 version update released yesterday it says “Now available for use on the iPod touch (4G) and iPad 2.”  See attached image. Sounds like the LTE equipment will be necessary for a new iPod touch 4G. 

  • Jake16Adams

    I paid $23.88 for an i Pad 2 32-GB and my girlfriend loves her Panasonic Lumiix GF 1 Camera that we got for $ 38.41 there arriving tomorrow by UPS. I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $ 635 which only cost me $ 61.74 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it al from,
    http://EgoWin.com

  • Jake152Adams

    I paid $23.88 for an i Pad 2 32-GB and my girlfriend loves her Panasonic Lumiix GF 1 Camera that we got for $ 38.41 there arriving tomorrow by UPS. I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $ 635 which only cost me $ 61.74 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it al from,
    http://EgoWin.com

  • Jake152Adams

    I paid $23.88 for an i Pad 2 32-GB and my girlfriend loves her Panasonic Lumiix GF 1 Camera that we got for $ 38.41 there arriving tomorrow by UPS. I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $ 635 which only cost me $ 61.74 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it al from,
    EgoWin.com

  • Theyseeyoutrollin

    that means absolutely nothing. 

  • Ben Woodward

    Engadget have removed the image at the request of their tipster, perhaps you should do the same. Lets try and keep everyone happy.

  • Aj Tk427

    that’s 4th generation, not LTE.. face palm

  • GH

    uhhhh. You make me want to punch kittens. 

  • person287

    We don’t have 4G in the UK yet, or most countries to be honest, so I wouldn’t bank on the next iPhone having it. The auction for the spectrum isn’t even going to be until about late 2012 let alone building the network up. Apple is more for the whole world and they don’t really change it for different markets, so if the chip is going to cost extra and not going to be used it seems a bit of a waste. The next phone I get will be 4G, it’ll be probably an iPhone but if something else good comes along then I’ll get that!

    And yeah as @google-46798ff02eb1fc97020933fae3173e1c:disqus says engadget got told to pull the photo

  • BigDH

    Could be AT&T had weak service in the area and asked Apple if they could put their gear in one of the stores?  The Pic’s don’t really show what band they are supporting so I do wonder if the LTE service claim is a mistake.

  • CharliK

    That’s 4g as in ‘fourth generation’.

  • lls40
  • Ari Romano Pfefferkorn

    can’t wait for apple to install NFC equipment in their stores :D

  • dtnelson66

    Obviously it isn’t a secret if you are reporting it? They may be installing LTE equipment, but clearly they aren’t doing it secretly.

  • Cold_dead_fingers

    Simple: LTE in new MacBook Air Pro’s.

  • Cold_dead_fingers

    You think 3G and LTE run on the same technology? I’m pretty sure they use different hardware.

  • Postblogs

    4G and 3G runs from the same eqiupment, you just have to enable it. Our major cities are full of these 4G ready boxes, but they work in 3G for now, until the carrier will get the license. Then its just a matter of checkbox at datacenter to start 4G. 

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About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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