Apple may be penalised for blocking iPhone 4G in Belgium

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Apple may be in trouble in Belgium over its iPhone 4G blocking tactics as Belgian Council of Ministers has ruled that no mobile phone manufacturer can block 4G for certain carriers.

Apple is known to actively block 4G connectivity on its latest iPhones for certain carriers, which it deems ‘preferred partners’, and has implemented a tedious and costly certification process for the rest of the carriers who want to get their networks certified for iPhone.

The ruling by Belgian Council of Ministers applies to all mobile phone manufacturers, but it seems that it has been directed mainly towards Apple because it has blocked 4G connectivity so that its devices won’t work with Proximus and Base – competitors of its preferred partner Mobistar, reports ZDNet.

The difficulty and complexity of the process is highlighted by Base corporate affairs manager Coralie Miserque who in a blog post wrote: “For more than 5 months now, BASE Company has done everything in its power to obtain a licence from Apple certifying that the BASE 4G network is technically compatible with its iPhones 5, 5C and 5S.”

“One long battle which, after three months of tireless attempts, all proved to be in vain when, at the beginning of October, BASE (at long last) received a “standard” reply from Apple advising it that the certification process is on-going and is taking “a while”.”

The irony here is that Mobistar doesn’t even have a 4G network, while both Base and Proximus have completed their LTE rollout. Base claims that Apple continues to protect its preferred partners by not certifying its competitors or delaying the process by months giving enough time to Mobistar deploy its 4G network.

According to Miserque over half of all 4G ready devices in the country are iPhones and the situation is the same across other countries in Europe.

According to the ruling mobile phone manufacturers will have to allow their devices to be used on any suitable network and those who fail to comply with the requirements will be penalised. If Apple ignores the ruling and continues its 4G blocking tactics, it may have to pay a fine for non-compliance. The amount of any such fine is yet to be made public.