UK authorities battle with Apple over '4G' claims

UK authorities battle with Apple over '4G' claims

Summary: Apple said it would (and has) removed any reference to '4G' on its UK website after complaints rolled in over lack of 4G connectivity. Except, it hasn't.


The UK's advertising regulator continues to battle with Apple over its claims that the iPad 3 is 4G-capable.

A letter seen by the BBC suggests the UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is willing to "close the file" on its investigation should Apple agree to amend its claims that UK customers can access the 4G network.

Two problems: firstly, Apple appears to be standing its ground, causing further headaches for the regulator, despite the iPad 3's inability to connect to any 4G network outside the U.S. and Canada.

And secondly, the UK doesn't even have a commercial 4G network yet.

It comes a month after the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) took Apple to court over similar claims, after the maker of shiny rectangles sold the device in the country knowing full well it wouldn't connect to its 4G networks --- while still advertising the tablet as a 4G-capable device.

The ASA warned that it was "aware of the news from Australia" and asked consumers to file a complaint. In just over a month, the regulator has received "dozens of complaints" over lack of 4G connectivity.

The regulator suggested Apple should remove any mentions of "4G" on its UK website, saying this would resolve the dispute. Apple said it would make "no further reference" to 4G, and would amend its advertising. The technology giant even edited a video to remove any references to the next-generation mobile broadband service, which has yet to get off the ground in the UK.

And it did, but only to a degree. It still markets the iPad 3's "Wi-Fi + 4G" model which lies at the heart of the ASA's argument. Herein lies the problem.

Apple doesn't want to market the new iPad as anything other than a 4G tablet.

Apple said it adds footnotes to its pages for clarity. The first footnote on the UK store page says: "4G LTE is supported only on AT&T and Verizon networks in the U.S., and on Bell, Rogers and Telus networks in Canada. See your carrier for details," but makes an effort to bury the news further down the page rather at the stage where the user selects their iPad model for purchase.

In Australia, Apple is trying to change the term '3G' into '4G' to circumvent the complaints. Terms like ‘2G’, ‘3G’ and ‘4G’ are not industry-defined, and speeds can vary.

But because UK consumers 'know' what 3G speeds are and have been used to such speeds for over a decade, Apple will have a hard time convincing the regulators and the British public --- just so it can keep its advertisements intact.

Apple declined to comment.


Topics: Mobility, Apple, Government, Government US, Hardware, Wi-Fi

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  • Simple.

    Pull the products off the market until they comply. Until they comply and update everything to reflect that it is not able to access a 4G network in the country of sale (either because there isn't one or because it is incompatible with them), they are falsely advertising which is generally illegal in most countries. And in this case, they can't use the "well the networks here are just as fast as US 4G networks so we thought that would count so could you please redefine 4G to suit us?" argument because there is no 4G network in the UK.

    They could have made this easier for themselves if they had packaging and advertising for North America (with 4G mentions), and 3G for the rest of the world.
    • Not simple, since there are no actual "4G" networks

      Just because you decided so succumb to the bribed lift of conditions about what could be called "4G", it does not mean that those networks are actually "4G".

      15 megabit/s cell networks are no less "4G" than 20-40 megabit/s networks, and vice versa.

      Actual 4G only starts with speeds 100 megabit/s and higher.

      That said, Apple, of course, has to remove 4G claims from UK site or name concretely future networks that will be supported (if there will be any compatible).
  • Same lie here

    Every carrier lies about 4G, if it was a true 4G connection the speeds would be between 100Mbit/s - Gbit/s. Instead we have this branded 4G connection from all the carriers that loves to overcharge for data connections with ridiculous prices.
    • Carriers in the UK

      Have not lied, none of them, to my knowledge promote their networks as 4G. When 4G does arrive in this country, it will in ideal circumstance be able to download content at 100mb, this technology is being test by O2 and other companies at the moment. An should be rolled out in the next 2-3 years.
      • If that is the case

        then what is up with this lawsuit? The lawsuit is saying that Apple is claiming 4G speeds with the iPad but the UK carriers are not 4G capable... do I have the gist of it? The Australian case I understand as their networks ARE 4G capable and the iPad is not compatible with their 4G networks - Apple did NOT do their due diligence. In this case it looks like the UK government is jumping the gun.
      • What's up is ...

        ... that when the UK 4G is working, the iPads being sold today still won't work with it, because they implement a different version.
  • not an Apple fan but...

    ...the Tablet in question is 4G capable, its the network that is not.
    • marketing lies.

      If its sold as a 4G device it should be capable of 4G in the country of sale not country of origin, if the countries 4G isn't compatible or is none exzistant then its not 4G capable is it.
      Thats the whole point of the advertising regulators to make sure people aren't ripped off by false claims in advertising, just because the U.S has laz regulations doesn't mean the U.K or Australia should allow it in their respective countries.
  • UK get with the picture its 2012

    So UK has its own version of 4G great so now we need a device with how many version of 4G really oh come on people make a standard and lets move forward, countries should not start creating they own standards and then suing other companies because their exact version is not compatible. F... I hate not have standards that make sense.
    • no 4G

      there isn't 4G in Britain so you're statement is irrelivent and why should everyone else follow the states, we didn't when you used NTSC, were not allowed to use region 1/A, and you couldn't be bothered to use GSM except as an after thought after CDMA got full.
      You like being isolated from the rest of the world, now you want us to follow you even if it harms our own countries (Britain uses 4G frequency for Digital OTA and has since before the U.S concidered Digital TV).
      So get with the program and except every thing inside and outside your boarders are different and needs treating like so.
  • Hmmmm....

    Whether or not a device is 4G or not, you can't claim on the web site for products for that country that it will work on a 4G network when the country has no compatible 4G network. That's like claiming to support Thunderbolt but nobody has it.
    Here's a thought: when the iPhone 4 came out, 35% of the people [in a survey] said they though it was 4G capable. Apple uses the "4" for "generations" but is it really? The 4S is superior to the 4. So shouldn't the 4S been a 5?
    Seems Apple loves to play around in marketing.
  • industry defined?

    as a technical layperson:
    1g was analogue
    2g was digital
    3g was the added hi-speed data channel

    the main difference being entirely different transmission frequencies being auctioned by the government and used, and there being no backwards compatibility to the previous infrastructure.

    It looks like the industry has defined 4g though: