Australian 3G ‘really 4G’, claims Apple

Apple’s defending its ‘4G’ branding of the iPad in Australia, saying it’s technically correct.

The company’s in hot water with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which has accused it of misleading advertising.

“It represents to Australian consumers that the product ‘iPad with WiFi + 4G’ can, with a SIM card, connect to a 4G mobile data network in Australia, when this is not the case,” it says.

The problem is that the device can only be used on the 700MHz and 2100MHz LTE bands – while Australia’s only 4G network, run by Telstra, operates in the 1800MHz band.

Apple has already agreed to offer refunds to any Australian buyers of they feel they’ve been misled.

But, according to The Australian, it’s still defending its branding, claiming it’s Australian networks that are mislabeled, not the iPad.

The networks operated by Telstra, Optus and Vodafone – and marketed as 3G technology – really aren’t, it says. Rather, it says, they’re “4G networks in accordance with accepted industry and regulatory use of the descriptor ‘4G.”

It adds: “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.”

There’s not much help from the ITU, whose definition of 4G is so tough that there doesn’t seem to be a system that meets it.

There is a let-out, though, in that it’s said any ‘evolved 3G technologies’ offering a ‘substantial level of improvement in performance and capabilities’ could count. Apple may win this one after all.