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back to article Oz regulator to Apple: Don’t call it 4G if you can’t connect

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 Australia …

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FAIL

Consumer expectations

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.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Consumer expectations

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

http://www.apple.com/au/ipad/specs/

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.

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Anonymous Coward

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...

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@AC Tuesday 27th March 2012 10:52 GMT

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.

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Bronze badge
Boffin

re:

I believe 3G is 384kbps- just slightly above double of the 160 offered by 2.5G EDGE, and barely enough to send a jerky, blurry thumbnail video call through. HSDPA pushes the speed up to 3.6Mbps, and HSUPA doubled it to 7.2, and HSPA+ pushes it even further to 14.4.

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Bronze badge
FAIL

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.

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Holmes

3G

The new iPad works just fine on 3G networks. It's not like they have no connectivity. 4G is meaningless moniker and Apple (and the Telcos) shouldn't have used it, but sadly it is here with us.

philip

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"4G" is a term defined by the ITU.

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.

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Re: "4G" is a term defined by the ITU.

" Didn't ANY of you bother reading the article?"

One could ask you the same question. According to the article, NO - the new iPad *can't* connect to 4G networks IN AUSTRALIA!!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "4G" is a term defined by the ITU.

"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.

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Re: "4G" is a term defined by the ITU.

> 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).

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Anonymous Coward

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.

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Silver badge
Childcatcher

Marketing is not an excuse

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.

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Anonymous Coward

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???

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Anonymous Coward

Hey I'd be happy with any-where-near 20Mbits and don't care if they call it 3.75G, 3.99G or 4G. Really HSPA+ is not just few times faster than 3G - it's so much faster than 3G do not think it's a problem calling it 4G anyway.

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Anonymous Coward

"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.

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Anonymous Coward

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?

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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>

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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:

http://guide-images.ifixit.net/igi/Kdi1XOouIp1VDAoN.huge

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.

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Word on the street is that the sticker in question is applied by Telstra.

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Anonymous Coward

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.

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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.

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IT Angle

3G and 4G use different technologies, frequencies and standards

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.

Substantiation follows:

(Sorry as a newb, I can't post links until 100 posts)

Google 4G wiki

Technical Definition

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).[1]

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".[2]

Google HSPA+

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. [1][2]

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. [3]

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Bronze badge
Pint

Tisk.

You are holding the "4" wrong.

It's a "PG" network (Parental Guidance). See? It's your mom's fault. Get different parents. Got it ?

Go forth and sin no more.

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