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Published on June 6th, 2012 | by David Frith

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Apple Retreat from 4G Claims on iPad 3

After substantial discussions with the UK’s Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) and other bodies from the EU and Australia, Apple have removed 4G claims from their iPad 3 marketing material.

Is it? Isn't it? Will the iPad 3 be suitable for UK and European 4G networks eventually?

The issue hinges on the varying definitions and ultimately implementation of 4G throughout the World. Apple has chosen to define 4G as those higher speed wireless networks, above and beyond 3G, which are in use or will be in use in the US.

 “The new iPad supports many high-speed networks around the world, including LTE in the US and Canada and HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA in many countries,” Apple said.

However, the frequencies at which ‘4G’ services operate are not the same worldwide. Furthermore, regional use of the term varies and can cover different technologies. Apple chose to define ‘4G’ as LTE (Long Term Evolution) wireless as specified in the US and Canada. However, in some regions, 4G is more commonly used to describe Wimax and in countries such as the UK where LTE rollout lags behind other countries, the frequencies it will ultimately employ are not the same as the US, thus making the iPad ‘4G’ technology useless now and incompatible in the future. (In North America, 700/ 800 and 1700/ 1900 MHz are to be used; 800, 1800, 2600 MHz in Europe; 1800 and 2600 MHz in Asia; and 1800 MHz in Australia.)

As a result of much rattling of sabres by authorities and consumer groups, Apple began back-tracking in earnest last week, presumably in an effort to stem potential legal ramifications in the future. Apple’s official line on the change of heart was: “Carriers do not all refer to their high-speed networks with the same terminology, therefore we have decided to use ‘WiFi and cellular’ as a simple term which describes all the high-speed networks supported by the new iPad. The advanced wireless features of the new iPad have not changed.”

The case does highlight the lack of universal specification and classification of future wireless technologies. It remains to be seen how Apple will address the as yet unresolved issue of providing genuinely 4G-enabled devices that will work on European 4G wireless networks.

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David Frith



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