Apple taken to court over claims of false 4G LTE iPad advertising in Australia

The '4G' iPad in the Optus online store

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission is going after Apple for advertising the new iPad as 4G capable, even though it's not compatible with their networks. The ACCC says they're after "injunctions, pecuniary penalties, corrective advertising and refunds to consumers affected" in this case.  Simply enough, Australian LTE operates on on 1800 MHz, while the two new iPad models currently available run on 700 MHz and 2100 MHz. Presumably, Apple will offer support for a wider variety of LTE flavors eventually, but for the time being, Australians and others will have to make do with 3G if they want cellular data on their new iPad.

Telstra, Vodafone, and Optus are both saying the new iPad has "ultrafast wireless" instead of 4G in their banners, but the proper model name for the new iPad in their online shops comes with "Wi-Fi + 4G" tacked on the end, so it's easy to imagine some consumers being mislead. As AT&T has proven, the definition of "4G" is very flexible these days, but it's good to see that marketing wordplay doesn't fly in Australia; with any luck, the ACCC will win this case and get the carriers and Apple to change around the branding.

Australia was one of the first regions to get the new iPad, having joined Canada, the U.S., U.K, France and lots of others on March 16. In fact, it was the first country to put it on sale, and was where the new iPad was disassembled for our viewing pleasure.

Source: ACCC

Simon Sage

Editor-at-very-large at Mobile Nations, gamer, giant.

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Reader comments

Apple taken to court over claims of false 4G LTE iPad advertising in Australia

31 Comments

This is dumb. Just because the iPad doesn't support Australia's 4G frequencies, that doesn't make the iPad any less 4G.

If your car can't legally do its 155mph does that mean that the manufacturer should post the speed limit in the specs?

Uhh, but it does. Just because your network can't doesn't mean the iPad CAN'T. The bands are built into the unit -- so yes, it most certainly can.

If the country uses different bands than North America, you cannot sell your device as 4G branded. It might be a 4G device in U.S., but it definitely is not in Australia, unless it adds 4G band at 1800 Mhz.

Truth in advertising is a requirement and false advertising is illegal. How difficult would it have been for Apple to place an "*" indicating that the LTE radios may not work in all markets or they should have provided LTE radios for that market.

The FCC should sue AT&T for false advertising as well. LTE isn't 4G. HSPA+ isn't 4G. Yet AT&T's coverage maps show "4G" where LTE isn't supported. And 4G exists only in laboratories at this point.
Here's a link to definitions of "LTE," "HSPA+," etc. On 3GPP.org, of course:
http://www.3gpp.org/Specifications

Now all we need to do is get some AT&T iPhone 4 and 4s users together and sue Apple and AT&T for false advertisement seeing that all the network notifier to read 4g when you have the same speeds that was present before the update.

While it's shady, AT&T (and others) are not 'technically' doing anything wrong since the ITU has given AT&T 'authorization' to sell their old network as "4G" since the ITU redeclared what is and isn't considered "4G". If the ITU never changed their stance on "4G" specifications, THEN you would have a case.

So a buddy of mine called me and said when is BlackBerry getting 4G Like Iphone. I said NO NO its not 4G The advertising of 4G is incorrect. He said well thats a littlle miss leading if it isnt 4G. I said that is what you get when your the largest tech company on the planet. You can do as you please!

No, that's what you get when the ITU says you can. Confusing to the less-informed? I totally agree.

I tend to agree with this. It's not 4G compatible in Australia, and never will be - so don't put 4G front and centre on all the marketing, instore ticketing, etc...

But since the ITU defines 4G to include HSPA+, It does have 4G in Australia within the iPads preferred carrier.
4G and LTE are under different specs. SO it technically does support 4G worldwide (since HSPA+ is fairly common place) and LTE in certain areas (north america).
It adds total confusion in the market place, and we all knew this was coming. This is the result of carriers and OEM's using different nomenclatures. Why doesnt the whole world use the ITU Telecom Standard, IDK.

This is a fascinating chicken/egg discussion about whether the iPad is 4G or not. On the one side, it has the capability to do 4G in large parts of the world, so of course it is 4G and the fault lies with the Australian carriers (you're holding your 4G wrong -- sorry, couldn't resist). On the other side, the carriers in a particular area are the ones providing the coverage and could rightly be considered the ultimate arbiter of what is and what is not 4G in that location. So if something can't take advantage of the 4G, then from an end-user perspective it is NOT 4G (since the user won't get to take advantage of those speeds). I get the argument that the iPad can be called 4G because of its capabilities around the world, but for people who will only be using it in Australia, that matters very little.

The US and Canada is hardly "around the world". The new iPad isn't compatible with 4G anywhere else in the world due to the different frequencies used. It's misleading to advertise a device as 4G when this is only really true in 2 countries.

Totally nailed my point. Even though I am Canadian, U.S. and Canada are only two countries which Apple sells its products to.

Come on Simon, we don't need truth, we need exciting facts about ios. You did the same with Rim when you were writing for Intomobile Blackberry page, relating every stone throwed at them. They will always be people saying bad of every brand. I'm not talkinh just about this article but we don't need every diffaming news about Apple. We're waiting for you that you choose most exciting news...

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