My colleagues at PC World reported on T-Mobile's forthcoming aggressive campaign proclaiming that its 4G network is bigger than anyone else's and taking swipes at the competition in its attempts to beat its chest loudest.
The problem is that T-Mobile's claim is a bald-faced lie. Its HSPA+ network is in no way a 4G network; it's simply one of the faster 3G networking technologies currently in use. And of course, as is the case with all carriers, this particular speed of 3G is available only in some locations; every carrier's network is a mix of speeds and standards, even those that are labeled "3G."
What is 4G? It's the generation that follows 3G, but that doesn't help much with the alphabet soup of meaningless acronyms the carriers throw around for mobile broadband. Fortunately, the international standards body for telecommunications, the ITU, recently decreed what 4G is, and nothing available in the United States today -- including the HSPA+ technology -- qualifies.
Sprint, of course, has also been advertising its WiMax-covered areas as 4G for nearly a year. WiMax is not 4G either, though in Sprint's defense, 4G's definition wasn't standardized until last month. Until then, it could legitimately get away with the 4G label because 4G didn't mean anything. Now it does.
T-Mobile, of course, is launching its 4G claims after the ITU decision, so it can't rely on the term being undefined as Sprint once could. And the company knows it's lying with the 4G claims but figures you don't care. Here's T-Mobile's official statement: "4G is about performance and today T-Mobile's HSPA+ network is delivering 4G speeds that match and often beat WiMAX and are readily comparable to what early LTE will deliver," said T-Mobile's USA chief technology officer, Neville Ray.
Translation: "We'll stick the 4G label on it because we want you to think we're offering something new and special, even though we're not."
If only the FCC and/or FTC would crack down on this false advertising (rife among carriers when it comes to performance claims), adopting the ITU definition as the standard of truth.