Apple faces European rebuke over Apple's '4G' iPad claim

From Australia to Europe: more complaints are coming in from customers to regulators that the iPad 3's "4G" capability simply doesn't work.

If you thought ZDNet's London Calling was spending a little too much time down under over the past few days, we're swinging back to Europe, as both the UK and Sweden are investigating Apple's alleged "misleading" claims over the 4G-enabled iPad 3.

Australia has already seen a rise in complaints over the incompatible 4G network, despite Telstra running a fully functional 4G network. Australia's advertising regulator said Apple must inform customers --- and Apple's lawyers said it will by email --- and offer refunds if they feel "misled".

Back to Europe, and Sweden has seen complaints rolling in from iPad 3 customers, reports the Wall Street Journal. The Swedish Consumer Agency is on the brink of launching an investigation to determine whether Apple's advertising is misleading.

Because Apple doesn't have a presence in Sweden, a complaint would have to be lodged with its European head office in Ireland, which could have knock-on effects around the rest of mainland Europe.

Onto the United Kingdom, where the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) could impose a marketing ban on the iPad 3's claims that it supports 4G in the UK, reports Pocket-Lint.

An ASA spokesperson said they were "aware of the news from Australia", and said customers could lodge a complaint with the regulator.

Apple has suffered a rebuke from the ASA in recent years, with the regulator banning an iPhone advert in 2008. The television advert gave a misleading impression" of the smartphone's browsing capabilities despite the device not supporting Flash or Java. While close to being defunct in the wake of HTML5, back then it was a big deal.

But swings and roundabouts for the Cupertino-based giant, as the ASA fell in its favour over claims that the iPhone was not the "world's thinnest smartphone".

The UK doesn't even have a 4G network yet, as negotiations continue between the mobile phone networks to see who gets what part of the spectrum on offer. The 700MHz spectrum that the iPad 3 is tuned into listening for 4G waves is reserved for free-to-air digital telly in the UK, adding yet another reason why British iPad 3 users will be denied a super-fast mobile broadband connection.

The problem is "4G", along with "2G" and "3G" are not legally protected terms. In Europe, 4G is roughly defined as Long-Term Evolution, or "LTE", while in the U.S., 4G also includes HSPA+, which Europeans still consider to be 3G speeds.

Two continents separated mostly by a common language; that is, especially when it comes to technology terminology.

Image credit: CNET.

Related: