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Thanks for the memories  July 26, 2012

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CNET Editor

Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies. Twitter: @Joseph_Hanlon

Loud and Clear

Apple lies, blame the telcos?

(Credit: Apple)

Today has been an interesting day for anyone interested in the mobile communications landscape in Australia. The ACCC taking Apple to task over iPad 4G claims is a major turn of events, but probably the least interesting part of the day's news for me. It was bound to happen, it should happen — it's what the ACCC is there for. Selling the tablet as iPad Wi-Fi 4G is like claiming a new model Holden is a V8 when Holden knows that only six cylinders will work in practice. Although the car still drives, there is a measurable dip in performance without the use of the inactive cylinders.

What's surprised me more is the perception that Apple is not doing anything wrong by advertising the iPad as being 4G. We are currently running a poll asking our readers whether Apple has behaved badly, and the results are neck and neck so far, with as many people absolving Apple as those who believe Apple has done the wrong thing.

The reaction on Twitter is interesting, too, with users calling for the ACCC to swing the ban hammer in the direction of the Aussie carriers, specifically Telstra. @airbagsandtree posted "Why can't ACCC say Telstra is misleading Australians for calling Teltra's 4G misleading when it is not compatible to the 4G around the world" and @Alexstarkey wrote "I object! speeds achieved on the new device are astounding,the limitations are Telstras own determination of 4G".

Should Telstra rename its 4G network? Or submit to a sub-par American standard? This does highlight confusion around what 4G means, and shines a light on the term's overuse in marketing in the US, but it seems to me like this anger is off course. The telcos shouldn't have to fudge the numbers to pretend the new iPad is 4G ready when it's not. Telstra shouldn't claim that Next G is 4G to sell iPads, even if it's Next G speeds are comparable to so-called 4G networks in the US.

The telcos are not blameless, of course. Vodafone's flagrant use of the term 4G in its iPad sale page is tremendously misleading and can only add to the confusion of its customers, especially those that have no prior knowledge of the difference between 3G or 4G, except the assumption that 4G must be better.

Consumer confusion isn't a "get out of jail free" card for Apple to misrepresent its products, though. Even if you could argue that Aussie tablet shoppers don't understand what 4G is, you can be sure that Apple does. There should be a clear acknowledgement at the point of sale that the tablet is only compatible with 3G networks in Australia and there should be no mention of 4G anywhere in sight. Apple fails to do this on its website and on its packaging, and should be pulled into line.

Update: Vodafone has amended its iPad sales page since this article was originally published, removing all references to the iPad offering 4G connectivity.

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dan_rox77 posted a comment   

Such a bullshit post with a blatant clickbait headline. Since when did CNET become Business Insider?Telstra's choice of frequency for their network isn't Apple's fault, NEITHER does it change the fact that the iPad does, in fact, have a 4G Qualcomm baseband.Reminds me of this quote: "Just because you close your eyes, it doesn't mean it's night time."


LachlanC posted a comment   

In Apple's view, any issues are the fault of others. If the iphone cannot get a signal, it is the user who hold the phone in the wrong position, If the ipad is too hot, user should hold the other side of the pad that is a bit less hot. If the ipad doesn't have the upload/download speed it claims to have, it is the telcos who don't follow their frequencies. See. Someone else is to blame.


BomanP posted a reply   

Are you stupid? How could it be the fault of others? I never use Apple products, correct me if I am wrong. Did Apple tell you the correct way to hold your iPhone/iPad in their manual. Not everyone holds their phone the same way. Left hand, right hand, etc...

if you are going to sell your product in another coutry you follow that country's rules and regulations. Not everyone follows Apple or America for that matter, you and Apple know that.

Blame Apple and blame yourself for being stupid.


AlexV1 posted a comment   

I agree with Apple assuming most of the Blame in this. They knew what they were doing, they knew that 4G wouldn't work here.


LabbieP posted a comment   

It has nothing to do with Telco's at all. The 700mhz frequency is currently used by Television stations, once they turn off the old analogue station towers the 700mhz spectrum is going to be auctioned off by the Gov't so that 4G can be used by mobile Telco's. Telstra is using a different frequency at moment which is not in 700 range.
It is Apple that has done wrong stating its 4G, in the USA it is 4G, not in Australia.
That is why the Telco's are placing bibs with the ACMA for the sale next Feb for the 700 frequency, which will be operational in 2014 or 2015.


LisaD posted a comment   

Apple should have put a one sentence line on its website indicating that due to global frequency differences in 4G networks, the iPad is unable to connect to the 4G standard in Australia. Its that simple. It is 4G in other parts of the world which makes its 4G claim correct.

They should create a different ad for the Australian market which doesn't mention 4G. The ipad is selling like hotcakes anyway so its worth spending a little bit of time and money to get the advertising right and avoid the grief. Who needs the negative publicity?


Im Batman posted a comment   

Apple appears to have updated their website about 4G, with a footnote... which should have been there on launch.
Also looks like Vodafone has caught on, i can't see the mentioned 4G now ... only 3G.

My take is that HSPA is an evolution of the 3G standards, with LTE also a further evolution on the 3G standards... but it has been marketed from the start as 4G LTE. (GAH!... marketing)

So in theory, the ipad doesn't support true 4G (which is LTE Advanced) anywhere on the globe, as the 4G in the states is only the basic LTE.

So Apple is sort of right, Telcos might be to blame with the way the advertising of their networks (the USA ones specifically).

LTE gets let off into the 4G grouping as it shares its name with LTE Advanced.

No Telstra shouldn't rename there network, they are generally complying with global marketing standards... they were really good and didn't call their NextG network 4G (discussed as 3.5G).

AT&T are real trouble in this marketing confusion... with the latest iOS update, the iphone 4S now shows 4G in its network indicator... just because they consider HSPA as 4G.

Your CNET global speedtest has shown that a good HSPA network can cream a LTE network... so a consumer might see a good fast experience and think its because of the 4G.
(this whole case would be more applicable in the UK as their 3G looks abysmal in the test).

i'm torn,
Apple AU should have been clear from the start and not flaunted 4G on the site like it was compatible... well, its not compatible to the "4G" as its marketed in Australia

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