Consumers v.s. regulators. Fun times all 'round :-)
(Idiots, the lot of 'em, but who am I to quibble?)
As with most jurisdictions that aren’t America, Apple’s new iPad, which is only associated with the number “4” as in “4G”, can’t connect to 4G networks in Australia. That’s disturbed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which is taking Apple to court over the issue. The ACCC, appointed enforcer of …
Marketing weenies trying to sell phones aside, 4G is:
100Mbs - mobile
1Gbs - fixed
So the best that could be done is calling it 3.5 through 3.9G networks as they improve on 3G speeds until they FINALLY make it to 4G.
I think we're about to see regulators in multiple countries start coming down on the telecom industry for false advertising.
Its the ITU who define what is or isn't 4G. Their original spec was 100Mbit/1Gbit, but they relaxed that to include both LTE and HSPA+ (previously only LTE Advanced qualified, and no-one has that yet)
The Australians have a 41Mbit HSPA+ network, and that qualifies under the new definition.
The obvious problem is what handset manufacturers and operators will call 4G when it really arrives in the shops and how they will differentiate it from what, by that time, they will have been selling for a few years...
It will all end in tears. Perhaps it was a mistake to make the jump between 3G and 4G quite so large in the first place, but for sure the relaxation of the definition by ITU is just postponing the problem to later.
@Steve Todd, I agree. What's more, this clearly shows that regulators should stick to what they understand as Apple's lawyers will have the case laughed out of court on that basis. Perhaps the ACCC should stick to what it does best i.e. investigating and finding that there is nothing untoward with a supermarket duopoly controlling over 70% of the food market and a similar amount of the booze market. Toothless twats thought they had a slam dunk.
> The Australians have a 41Mbit HSPA+ network, and that qualifies under the new definition.
Except that it's not marketed that way. 4G quite unequivocally means LTE in the Australian market. No carrier calls HSPA+ 4G. It's an evolution of 3G. LTE is a different technology (which is why I'm surprised the ITU didn't just go with that - it's a new generation of technology, hence a new G - DC-HSPA is just HSPA twice at the same time).
But, regardless, in Oz, 4G = LTE. There's only one such network, Telstra's and it's on 1800MHz and so the iPad can't do it. And even when the 700MHz spectrum is released in 2013, it won't be the same frequencies AT&T and Verizon (and hence the iPad) use.
Many retailers (eg JB HiFi) have taken to putting disclaimer cards up around the iPads in their store to highlight to customers that it's not a 4G device in that sense.
The Trade Practices Act talks about "false or misleading". It's not about what 4G technically is. It's about whether a reasonable person would be misled into believing that a New iPad can connect to the 4G network. Personal opinio - I'm surprised the ACCC took so long.
> And even when the 700MHz spectrum is released in 2013, it won't be the same frequencies
> AT&T and Verizon (and hence the iPad) use.
Theoretically tho, it will be compatible if the 700MHz frequency is used for LTE. If they chose to use it for other technologies however...
Better than Asia I guess. 1.8GHz and 2.6GHz (900MHz repurposed for 3G, woe be upon those who bought cheapo 2G-only China phones). No 700MHz LTE in sight, no possibility of using a LTE 4G network with an iPad.
The world should for once just freaking standardize itself and assign one single band that is used in every single country. Less headaches that way.
> Theoretically tho, it will be compatible if the 700MHz frequency is used for LTE. If they chose to use it for other technologies however...
NO. There are multiple UMTS bands in the 700MHz range. AT&T uses one. Verizon uses a different one (classes 12 & 17 I think). The 700MHz frequencies that will be released by the so called "Digital Dividend" after TV stations are "restacked" (if 2013 I believe) will not be in those classes. They're in another one. So even after the Oz Govt releases 700MHz and the carriers deploy networks in those bands, this iPad will still NOT work on those LTE networks.
Unless I'm mistaken (and lets face it, its possible) - the standard is still 100Mbit/1Gbit to be considered "proper" 4G. The ITU decided to allow the 4G moniker to be allowed to be used for marketing purposes though for technologies that were on their way to "getting there", but does the ITU's marketing decision have legal standing in individual countries when it violates the actual ITU 4G standard? Sounds like shaky legal ground. Trade Regulators in individual countries could still claim false advertising *if* the ITU didn't actually LOWER the standard to 42Mbs downloads which is what Tmobile and Verizon in the US have currently.
Sprint was the first in the US to pull this bone head as a marketing scam. Who knew it would get so out of hand? What I do have to question is why regulators are just now seizing on this regarding Apple? I'm not exactly an Apple lover, in fact the opposite, but why pick on them now? Why didn't they go after the EVO4G, iPhone4 (coming after the 3G without proper disclaimers) and all the other "4G" stuff ages ago?
Apple lost all sense of product naming when they named their second-generation iPhone 3G.
OK, it indicated an available connection type, but the obviously didn't try having to explain that to anyone non-technical.
The same trick again of mixing up generations of models and radios does suck. And the ACC are right to hit them for it.
... in a country that has a 4G network.
Apple has already included a notice to customers who bought a new iPad in Australia that it is not compatible with any 4G networks that exist.
And just the same, you can take your car to Germany and drive on parts of the autobahn and reach well in excess of 230km/h.
I dont want to sound like a fanboi, but Apple are just advertising the devices capabilities, just like a car manufacturer asvertises that a car is capable of Xkm/h. It can do what it says, you just have to use it in the right environment - whether you happen to live in that environment is beside the point, you have to make sure you understand what you can do with any given device in your area. Otherwise, car manufacturers would have to advertise that a car is only capable of the maximum speed limit, which is just plain silly when it can do much more, just because you happen to live in an area which has enforced speed limits. How often do your hear of consumer outrage towards car manufacturers because their local roads are sign posted below the top speed of a car!?
So you buy an iPad that has 4G capabilities, but there are no 4G networks in your area? Thats not Apples fault. Blame your network operators. If you bought the device assuming you would get 4G speeds, thats your problem for not researching it properly. But lucky for these people, the Gov is there to protect them ... from their own stupidity.
Granted, these companies do use certain details as selling points for their wares, but unfortunately there is that percentage of the market that cant, wont, or dont educate themselves appropriately before making a purchase that inevitably leads to these kind of regulatory interventions, which really arent necessary and only serve to make it look like a company has done something dodgy when really they havent.
And they say the consumer is always right. I really loathe that saying...
For someone who doesn't want to sound like a fanboi, you sure sound like a fanboi. Apple is selling this product in Australia to Australian consumers to use in Australia. It is advertising it as a 4G device, which in Australia, it isn't. If someone builds a 4G network that is compatible with the iPad then they can change the advertising at that time to reflect that change. In the meantime, they should be selling what it can do in Australia, not in California or Kazakhstan. All the car analogies are completely broken.
"Apple shouldn't be allowed to advertise the phone as 4G in the UK when there is no 4G network."
Agreed on that point.
"That's akin to car manufacturers advertising that their cars can reach speeds over 150mph, when there's no-where you can drive at that speed.
Now you've gone and lost me. There are plenty of places where you can go at the weekend (or week) to drive at those speeds. It would be like me saying that there are no places to buy bras in England 'cause I've never gone and brought one.
The other issue is that if a car is only capable of 70mph, then it will probably take 10 minutes to reach that speed, and won't be able to hold it going up hills. It's breaking systems could also be on the limit at that speed and so may not be the safest thing to be in. Plus it means that it will be ragging it's guts out if you drive at the motorway speed limit meaning it's life will be severly limited.
Advertising that the car can safely travel at 150mph means that there is sufficient margin for it to be able to accelerate to 70mph on the sliproad, can still drive up hills and will cruise at that speed without causing your ears to bleed, and be able to stop quickly enough from 70mph to stop you becoming a statistic.
Of course there is. Speed limits only apply to public thoroughfares.
Also, to be fair to Apple - since they actually aren't in the wrong this time - their in-store advertising for the 4G iPad states clearly and visibly that its 4G functionality will only work on certain US networks. They are not trying to missell it.
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"Apple shouldn't be allowed to advertise the phone as 4G in the UK when there is no 4G network."
So, they make a device which is capable of working on the ITU 4G definition as it currently stands and just because no telco in your country can provide a 4G network because your Government hasn't got its finger out of its arse and sold the spectrum they shouldn't be able to advertise that it is 4G capable? What planet do you live on?
Funny how back in October Schiller was keen to avoid the 4G label for the iPhone 4S as there was no consensus on what 4G was and Apple didn't want to get bogged down in that debate.
Skip forward 6 months and it's suddenly sure of what 4G is, made it a key feature of the iPad and wants to sell it in countries where it matters not a jot.
One could almost begin to be cynical about this stuff..
Well, assuming you're in a 3G network I'd be suspicious you're carrying a very old SIM. Not many people realise that you do need a specific 3G SIM as the older ones didn't permit the functionality. Though if you got the SIM card in the last 4-5 years you're probably just in a not-spot, but worth checking with your provider.
it has nothing to do with the phone or SIM and everything to do with our spotty network. The phone I have is an Android advertised for 4G. On my daily train commute there are multiple places where I lose all phone signal and I've never seen a working 4G on that ride*. And I live in a major metropolitan area, not out in the boonies. In fact you might have heard of it:: the Washington DC beltway area.
*I have seen one once at a hotel where I was attending a conference, so presumably it works. Or at least I thought it indicated I was connected to one.
The Powers That Be have allowed LTE to be called 4G even though it isn't really.
Apple are selling 4G units in territories where they know the chip cannot connect to existing or proposed networks. They market it as having Ultra Fast internet access, it is reasonable for the lay person to assume that this is in reference to the 4g element. It is also reasonable for that person to assume that it will connect to 4G networks in their territory.
Apple decided to use two different 4G chips, supporting frequencies only used in N America. Fair enough that's their choice. However outside the USA, rather than saying 4G is not supported by all carriers they should be honest and warn customers that to enjoy 4G they will have to fly across the Atlantic and purchase a suitable sim.
They knew that calling it the new iPad wifi + 4G would result in confusion, sadly they also realised that it would lead to more sales.
To the best of my knowledge no other maker has had the front to marketed devices as 4G in areas where frequencies are incompatible.
Cue some weasel words in the advertising. 4G ready or some other meaningless text.
Do the Australians not go to the USA ? There seem to be millions of them in London. You can buy a device and travel with it - it is therefore a 4G device, just not in some parts of the world. The iPad is a portable device, not like a TV, so this is a reasonable scenario.
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"Would it be quibbling for El Reg to note that since there’s no such thing as a genuine “4G” network, in the absence of any genuine “4G” standard? Or would that sound like we’re letting Apple off the hook?"
However, that doesn't stop Telstra from promoting its so-called 4G, moreover it continues to do so in the absence of any real service--pinpoint pockets on a map DO NOT constitute a service, 4G-beta or otherwise!
Funny that, whilst the ACCC has the temerity to take on the Cult of Cupertino, it doesn't have the guts to take on Telstra.
(When you're Telstra you can scare the shit out of politicians, be a monopolistic brat, treat customers with utter contempt, and be a general all-round lack-off-service carpetbagger because you know that many of your shareholders are the little mums and dads of Australia--those who were conned by governments of both persuasions to buy Telstra shares during their nasty, grubby grab for money by their sell-off of public assets that took more than 130 years to build up.)
The ASA are investigating already!
I was about to send them a complaint, BUT I found others already had, and since another complaint is pointless (number of complaints mean nothing, just if they broke the code) I won't...
I look forward to apple being sued and iPads needing to be re-named/withdrawn from sale...
Oh and a certain large store actually told me the ipad is ready for uk 4g networks!!!!
"That's akin to car manufacturers advertising that their cars can reach speeds over 150mph, when there's no-where you can drive at that speed."
Ok so I demand a refund on every car I have ever bought that claimed a top speed in excess of 70mph on the grounds that it is not legal to drive on the public roads at that speed?
Loads of people already sell '3G' phones that will not connect to all 3G frequencies used worldwide - 4G is no different.
It is different, my car can do around 140mph, and I can take it to a track in the UK and do it...
IF I buy a 3G phone, it will work in the country I buy it, I don't expect it to work over all different countries unless specifically brought for that, BUT if I buy a 4G device and a contract for it, I expect it to have 4G available..
The fact is the 4G device isn't even 4G really... Its a bit of a fraud.. its 3.5G at most...
Well, originally there WAS a minimum standard: sustained transfer rates of over 100Mbit/sec to a mobile device (and 1Gbit/sec to a stationary one). LTE Advanced is the closest thing there is to it, but it's still a few years out and also starved for spectrum (there's only so much data you can send wirelessly, no matter which technique you use--it's physics that's limiting you). The good news is that you can convert LTE towers to LTE Advanced towers with only relatively-minor refitting (this is one reason for the LTE push now--looking ahead). The bad news is that the phones also need to be redone, which makes carriers reluctant to move too quickly. But people are already butting up against the limits of HSPA and are creating a demand for something better. LTE isn't much better than HSPA, but with pent-up demand and no alternatives, the ITU (THIS is the body that originally set the generational definitions) realized they set the 4G bar too high (no one would be able to make the goal anytime soon) so moved the goal posts. What was once 4G will likely become 5G, once LTE becomes more entrenched and the transition from there to LTE Advanced can then begin.
Yes, El Reg, it *would* be quibbling.
Whether or not there is a 4G standard, consumerland probably assumes there is such a thing as 4G since we all know what 2G and 3G mean, we may know about 2.5G and may have seen 3.5G on our handsets.
So if a consumer has seen 2G, 2.5G, 3G and 3.5G come along, is it unreasonable for them to expect that a 4G product will work with whatever network upgrade their operator offers next?
Whether or not 4G is 'defined' is irrelevant in this case: what operators are calling '4G' is faster than their 3G offering (in theory). If the iPad is known to be incompatible with that technology, Apple is misleading their customers because their product is 'only' 3G and they know it.
Therefore, calling it the iPad 4G outside the US is nothing short of misleading.
How about everyone stating that Apple are conning people actually go and look at their website. Here's the AU site link for you if you can't be arsed finding it
The 4G bit has a note reference against it. Track down the page to find...
"4G LTE is supported only on AT&T and Verizon networks in the US; and on Bell, Rogers and Telus networks in Canada. See your carrier for details."
Hardly what I'd term misleading. I'm sorry, but consumer laziness is a poor excuse.
3G is technically something like 200kbit/s - what we know as HSDPA some people 'call' 3.5G - then we have HSUPA and now HSPA+ - have even seen references to 3.75G??
Since HSPA+ can do over 20Mbit/s (100x faster than the 3G spec) is it that unreasonable to call HSPA+ a 4G technology?
I recon most people are more likely to get a HSPA+ connection than LTE anytime soon...
4G just specifies speeds rather than tech. So if HSPA+ can get to 100Mbs mobile (and it can) and 1Gbs stationary (where it can't, I think 750Kbs is max) then it would be considered 4G as well. I've gotten 37Mbs on my Tmobile SGSII, so I can personally vouch for HSPA+ being able to push some serious data. That's the same speeds as Verizon's 1st gen (non 4G) LTE net is capable of.
You ever wondered why Sprint and Verizon's outdated (but TWEAKED) CDMA tech was allowed to carry a 3G moniker? Its speeds, not tech.
Just to add my few pennies in here.....
Apple were quite happy to make sure that Siri's capabilities outside the US were advertised correctly - so there should be no advertising outside the US stating it can look up business addresses and the like. It is therefore NOT unreasonable to expect that as the 4G that the iPad is capable of (LTE) will never work outside the US either - that it is properly advertised outside the US. If you have to use terms like 3.5G that's fine - say it is capable of 3.5G. Forget the car analogy that is mentioned in multiple comments - there is a much simpler analogy. It is like buying a TV from THIS country - that is designed for the NTSC market not the PAL one.
Didn't ANY of you bother reading the article?
The ITU defines the various "G" states by speed, not by technology. As long as the operator can squirt data to your phone at the speeds defined as "4G" (which are NOT set at "100Mbs mobile / 1Gbs static" any more, please note) it CAN be called "4G". Yes, this includes some HSPA+ variants. The ITU changed its mind on what "4G" means. Deal with it.
And, yes, the new iPad can connect to those faster HSPA variants, so yes, it IS fucking 4G-capable, as defined by the ITU!
As defined by the ITU, 4G does NOT require LTE.
"NO - the new iPad *can't* connect to 4G networks IN AUSTRALIA!!"
So what? It can connect to 4G networks on the 700 or 2100MHz bands. Seriously, who gives a shit about Australia ? The locals are more than used to getting shafted every which way by every company operating in the country.
> Seriously, who gives a shit about Australia ?
Well, in this case, the Federal Government of the Commonwealth of Australia does. And they passed a law that says that "Corporations shall not, in trade or commence, engage in conduct that is misleading or deceptive or likely to mislead or deceive" (I may not be 100% accurate there but darn close).
That law doesn't care what the definition of 4G is. It cares what the public reasonably perceives what a 4G network is. And the truth of the matter is that ALL UMTS/WCDMA networks in Australia all the way up to DC-HSPA+ are marketed as 3G. By all carriers. There's no argument or confusion in the market.
Then Telstra launches LTE @ 1800MHz and, not unreasonably, calls it 4G. It's within the definitions the ITU uses and it's a step up in technology. And nobody in the real world has had an argument with that. None of the other carriers have an argument about that (that I've ever observed).
So, you have a store with an HTC Velocity 4G and a Galaxy Tab 8.9" 4G and a New iPad 4G sitting in the row. One of those things is not like the other. One of those things can't actually do the 4G thing it claims to do in the environment it's being sold into. And the great majority of the population, when faced with those 3 devices (and more), would assume, reasonably, that they will all be able to access that 4G network.
That's why the ACCC are taking Apple to court. Because the law says it's illegal to do things like that if it's likely that people will be misled. It's up to the courts to decide if the ACCC is right or not.
BUT the ITU definition of 4G will probably not be a major factor.
If Apple wants to engage in commerce in a country, they, like everybody else, need to abide by the laws governing commerce in that country. And all that it would probably require, in this case, would be a line underneath the sign saying "If you travel to the US and get an AT&T SIM" (I believe the Oz iPads are the AT&T version, not the Verizon version).
The car analogy is not a bad one - my BMW could do 155mph (limited) on an airfield / autobahn in Germany - whereas in the UK we are only allowed to do 70mph.
The iPad is capable of 4G (if anyone actually knew what that really meant) - it does some LTE frequencies (perhaps not the ones we will end up using in the UK) and HSPA+ (which is 100 times quicker than the 3G spec.) - so bit of a storm in a teacup this.
If you sell a 3G system which works to a particular level and then your bring out a "new, improved" "4G system", then I think customers have the right to expect something better than the same 3G they already had.
I know, people are stupid, but I think the onus is on Apple to do the right thing. They should know what they are doing and should not mislead, even if technically 4G doesn't exist.
It would be a bit like advertising ADSL3*
We need to put a stop to weasel marketing.
*56k baud expected in most areas.
"Why did they even bother to include the 4G chipset? surely us brits could of got a nice 3G version without having to pay for something we will never use???"
It's probably more expensive to make / stock / distribute many different models - i.e. for each country. By the time the UK get's it sh*t in gear we will be on an iPad 7 anyway. I have HSPA+ on a Three dongle (assume the performance of the iPad would be similar) and I get over 7Mbit/s download and over 2Mbit/s upload here (actually faster than the BeThere ADSL we have). So HSPA+ is fine with me and as it's capable of 20Mbit/s+ it's about the same speed as a optimal ADSL 2+ 'fixed' connection.
Worry about LTE or whatever we eventually get WHEN (if?) we finally get it - even when we do I suspect the roll out (outside of major cities and towns) will be slow - so count on using HSPA+ for some time to come.
Selling to the average Joe - do you think he knows what 3G is (and is not) - do you think he cares about the difference between 3.0G, 3.5G, 3.75G or whatever = no. All he cares about is is it quick enough or at least a bit quicker than the last one.
I'm sure anyone getting 0.2Mbit/s on 3G (the actual minimum for the specification) would be overjoyed to get a decent HSDPA connection at about 2.0Mbit/s and over-the-moon to get 20Mbit/s that the HSPA+ spec is capable of. By the time people are getting a reliable 20Mbit/s connection (regardless of what you want to call it) we will probably be talking 5G networks.
Perhaps HSPA+ should be 4G and whatever comes next a faster standard is called 5G?
Now where is my subspace receiver?
Average Joe - whuaaaaaaaat?
Nuff said. The MBA Marketing types come in and tell the engineers they don't know how to sell this stuff. They then proceed to adjust accordingly:
Here's where its at.
3.5G - 3.7G is now 4G
3.8G-3.99G is now 5G
4G is now 6G
4.25G is now 7G
and so on.
At this rate, we'll be at 10G by 2015 after having spent most of the naughts in 3G.
<sidenote: HSPA+ is capable of 42Mbs currently. Verified on my phone which gets 36-37Mbs consistently/miraculously. Unfortunately that makes it real easy/FAST to hit a now increasingly small 2GB cap>
To be fair the iPads sold in Australia do have stickers on the boxes informing people that it can only operate at 3G speeds. Take a look at iFixit's picture from their teardown here:
For reference the full tear down is here: http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/iPad-3-4G-Teardown/8277/1
This tear down was done on launch day so this is not a new thing. It's arguable whether the sticker is big enough etc I guess but if you look at the online Apple store for Australia there's not a big play on it being a 4G device. It generally talks about the wi-fi being fast and not so much the mobile data.
Not the ones sold by Dick Smith. No such picture. I should know, I work there, sold three on the first weekend I worked after launch.
Interestingly enough, my girlfriend was buying one of these oversized phones and a lady at the electronics counter at BigW was saying the 4G would only work in city areas. I guess the Apple rep's taking a day off.
So, they can advertise that the Siri is a good thing that does stuff it can't do in the UK in the UK and the ASA rolls over and says "Meh. What did you expect? Your expectations were too high."
They do a similar thing in Oz, "Look at this feature we have! You can't use it, but we have it!" and Oz says "Oi! You! NO!"
From this, I can draw the conclusion that the ASA needs to get a backbone.
The ITU relaxed 4G specs to allow faster service, even those still using 3G technologies as long as they move towards the 100Mbps / 1GPS standards.
(Sorry as a newb, I can't post links until 100 posts)
Google 4G wiki
In March 2008, the International Telecommunications Union-Radio communications sector (ITU-R) specified a set of requirements for 4G standards, named the IMT-Advanced (International Mobile Telecommunications Advanced) specification, setting peak speed requirements for 4G service at 100 megabits per second (Mbit/s) for high mobility communication (such as from trains and cars) and 1 gigabit per second (Gbit/s) for low mobility communication (such as pedestrians and stationary users).
Since the above mentioned first-release versions of Mobile WiMAX and LTE support much less than 1 Gbit/s peak bit rate, they are not fully IMT-Advanced compliant, but are often branded 4G by service providers. On December 6, 2010, ITU-R recognized that these two technologies, as well as other beyond-3G technologies that do not fulfill the IMT-Advanced requirements, could nevertheless be considered "4G", provided they represent forerunners to IMT-Advanced compliant versions and "a substantial level of improvement in performance and capabilities with respect to the initial third generation systems now deployed".
HSPA+, or Evolved High-Speed Packet Access, is a technical standard for wireless, broadband telecommunication. HSPA+ enhances the widely used WCDMA based 3G networks with higher speeds for the end user that are comparable to the newer LTE networks. HSPA+ was first defined in the technical standard 3GPP release 7 and expanded further in later releases.
HSPA+ provides an evolution of High Speed Packet Access and provides data rates up to 168 Megabits per second (Mbit/s) to the mobile device and 22 Mbit/s from the mobile device. Technically these are achieved through the use of a multiple-antenna technique known as MIMO (for “multiple-input and multiple-output”) and higher order modulation (64QAM) or combining multiple cells into one with a technique known as Dual-Cell_HSDPA.
The 168 Mbit/s and 22 Mbit/s represent theoretical peak speeds. The actual speed for a user will be lower. In general, HSPA+ offer higher bitrates only in very good radio conditions (very close to cell tower) or if the terminal and network both support either MIMO or Dual-Cell_HSDPA, which effectively use two parallel transmit channels with different technical implementations.
The higher 168Mbps speeds are achieved by using multiple carriers with Dual-Cell_HSDPA and MIMO together simultaneously. 
The technology also delivers significant battery life improvements and dramatically quicker wake-from-idle time - delivering a true always-on connection. HSPA+ should not be confused with LTE, which uses a new air interface based on OFDMA technology. HSPA+ is an evolution of HSPA that upgrades the existing 3G network and provides a cheap way for telecom operators to migrate towards 4G speeds without deploying a new radio interface. 
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