Apple bows to pressure, drops ‘4G’ label with new iPad

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Apple has quietly removed any mention of 4G’s support on the iPad in its promotional material and in its store in several countries, including Australia, after regulators complained that suggesting that it has the feature when it doesn’t even work in the country is a tad misleading.

It has replaced the name of its ‘Wi-Fi + 4G’ model to the ‘Wi-Fi + Cellular’. In Australia, it has also made sure to say that “It is not compatible with current 4G LTE networks and WiMAX networks”. The move is more likely to appease consumer watchdog bodies Australia’s ACCC and UK’s Advertisement Standards Authority – with the ACCC already having a legal battle over its use of 4G in promotional material.

It is in fact true that the iPad does support 4G. However, it only supports the bands that Verizon, AT&T and some Canadian mobile operators have chosen to serve 4G through. It does not support ones used in Europe and Australia – meaning that both Optus and Telstra will not be able to push through their 4G services through the iPad (unless you use methods to work around that problem, such as creating a Wi-Fi hotspot).

But 4G is such a tricky term to grapple around – there are two definitions, a more technical definition and a marketing definition. Australia’s LTE networks, and most 4G networks around the world, do not fit within the technical definition of 4G, outlined by an international body called the ITU. However, marketing it as 4G is allowed because no one decided to follow the ITU’s more strict definition on what 4G services are.

According to ZDNet Australia, the ACCC’s case against Apple is to go ahead next month, but it could be Apple’s way in trying to settle out of court.