Apple has begun a legal defense in Australia’s federal court over allegations of the 4G LTE capabilities of the iPad 3 in Australia. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission had accused the company of misleading customers by branding the iPad 3 sold in Australia as a 4G LTE product when it was not compatible with Australian 4G LTE networks. The iPad 3 is only compatible with the 700 MHz spectrum that is not used in countries such as Australia and the European Union, who rely on other bandwidths.
Apple bases its defense on the notion that Australian network companies have mislabeled their networks. Apple claims that the three major carriers in Australia- Telstra, Optus and Vodafone- can be “called 4G networks in accordance with the accepted industry and regulatory use of the descriptor 4G.” In Australia, the three networks are classified as 3G carrier networks. The iPad 3 can work on the 700 and 2100 MHz frequencies and the latter is the frequency that the three major telecoms in Australia use and market as a 3G technology.
Apple also added that “The descriptor ’4G’ … conveys to consumers in Australia that the iPad with WiFi + 4G will deliver a superior level of service in terms of data transfer speed (consistent with accepted industry and regulatory use of that term), and not that the iPad with WiFi + 4G is compatible with any particular network technology promoted by a particular mobile service provider in Australia.”
One of the major problems facing the telecommunications industry is the nebulousness surrounding the correct branding of networks. 4G is technically defined by the International Telecommunications Union as a standard that has the capability of reaching transfer speeds in excess if 100 megabits per second. Though none of the advertised LTE standards have speeds anywhere near the 100 megabit standard, they can be marketed as 4G as long as they can one day match the specific speed through upgrades. Carriers worldwide brand their networks as 4G to attract customers, though they may not meet the standards and this will cause problems for regional devices that promise to work on the 4G network globally. Apple’s Australian dispute is expected to be given a full hearing in May.