According to imore, Apple currently plans to hold their iPad 3 announcement on Wednesday, March 7, 2012. Along with the 2048×1536 Retina display, the iPad 3 will feature a quad-core Apple A6 system-on-a-chip, and according to The Wall Street Journal 4G LTE networking.
4G LTE networking has been a mystery surrounding the iPad 3, with a compatible Qualcomm chipset becoming available, but international LTE coverage is still slim, and in some cases a year or more away. With up to 38 different 4G LTE frequency combinations around the world, Apple would need to offer more than one iPad 3 model in order to support North America as well as Europe, Asia, and Australia.
The Wall Street Journal reports that US network providers AT&T and Verizon are will sell a version of the iPad 3 with 4G. No carriers in Canada, the UK, or anywhere else in the world is mentioned.
LTE is a standard that is being used around the world, starting with TeliaSonera in Sweden and Norway back in 2009. In the US, you have AT&T, Verizon. There are over 30 countries that have commercial LTE service available, but unlike GSM which used exclusively the 800, 900, 1800 and 1900 MHz bands around the world, LTE is being used in nearly every band available. In North America, the 700 and 1700 MHz bands are the main bands for LTE, but 800, 1900, 2500 and possibly even 1500 MHz are also used. The rest of the world used 900, 1800 and 2600 MHZ, meaning that we have the potential for up to nine bands that the radio chipset would have to support. Complicating matters even more, even in similar frequencies, there are multiple chunks of spectrum that don’t overlap. For example, Verizon uses 746-787 MHz, while AT&T uses 704-746 MHz. While close, these different blocks have different equipment needed due to radio propagation and interference issues. Extrapolate this across the world, and we’re now encompassing 38 different frequency combinations around the globe.
If Apple is to make the LTE enabled versions available all over the world, a nine band LTE radio is not possible. A speculative solution is that Apple make multiple devices, one will support the 700 and 1700 MHz bands in North America, and one for the 800, 1800 and 2600 MHz bands for Europe, Asia and Australia.
Other rumours from iLounge have included better cameras, either a 5 or 8 megapixel rear camera and a FaceTime HD front camera.