The LTE-enabled device was launched in South Africa on December 14 last year, but Apple has decided to block LTE capability until it has determined whether each of the networks available meet Apple-required standards.
Given the importance of the network in the proper functioning of LTE services, Apple is vetting the networks in advance to ensure that once LTE is enabled, the latest iPhone device will be able to function to its full potential.
Devices are thus currently prevented from connecting to any LTE network, with capabilities switched off via the iPhone 5 operating system software. This includes the Vodacom and MTN networks, despite the race the operators have been running to be the first operator to boast LTE capabilities.
Once satisfied with the quality of the networks available, Apple will issue a system upgrade which will enable the LTE function of the device.
While it is unclear exactly how long the vetting processes will take, it is expected that LTE will be enabled in the first quarter of the year, with Vodacom assuring customers that: “This functionality will hopefully be made available by the manufacturer early next year .”