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ITU's Definition Aside, T-Mobile Pushes 4G Label In New Ad Campaign

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the how-to-tick-off-buyers dept.

Wireless Networking 120

snydeq writes "T-Mobile has officially joined Sprint in pushing the promise of '4G' mobile services on consumers, despite the fact that, according to the ITU standards body, neither carriers' offerings constitute 4G mobile technology. In Sprint's defense, it has been advertising its WiMax-covered areas as 4G for nearly a year — technically not a lie because until last month 4G didn't mean anything, InfoWorld's Galen Gruman reports. But now that the ITU has provided a standard against which the FCC and FTC can judge truth in advertising, T-Mobile's new 4G ad campaign is a 'bald-faced lie,' Gruman writes." National ad campaigns take more than a month to coordinate, though — if the term was basically free-floating until last month (with quite a few candidate standards over the years), it seems hard to condemn companies too harshly for using a marketing catch-phrase.

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orly? (4, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#34129464)

it seems hard to condemn companies too harshly for using a marketing catch-phrase.

Really? The whole purpose of the FTC is to insure companies don't use misleading catch-phrases. If a company sells 4G service, and another company falsely claims they do and gains customers, then yes, the first company is injured. They spent more money to actually provide the service that the second company only claimed.

Not only is it EASY to get harsh, but when companies flatly lie to customers, the price *should* be many times the amount of profit they made using the lie. Brushing it off as "only a marketing catch-phrase" is ignorant at best.

Re:orly? (3, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 4 years ago | (#34129504)

it seems hard to condemn companies too harshly for using a marketing catch-phrase.

Really? The whole purpose of the FTC is to insure companies don't use misleading catch-phrases. If a company sells 4G service, and another company falsely claims they do and gains customers, then yes, the first company is injured.

The problem then is that no company to date has "4g" service. Hell, most of them have 3G service only by a very loose definition. It seems that, so far no consumer has been mislead into thinking one particular service is better than another; they all stink!

Re:orly? (4, Insightful)

brainboyz (114458) | more than 4 years ago | (#34129982)

Reminds me of the distinction between HiSpeed USB 2.0 and USB 2.0 Compatible.

Re:orly? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#34130126)

Hell, most of them have 3G service only by a very loose definition.

How so? EDGE is in fact 3G by ITU's definition; see IMT-2000. So's EVDO rev. 0; so are you thinking of networks running older tech, or do you just think the 3g standard constitutes a "very loose definition" of 3G?

Re:orly? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#34130336)

I'm sure someone will be duped. "4G is better than 3G! Buy, buy, buy!"

Having worked with customers, they aren't too bright. About two years ago I was shopping, and I heard a couple arguing to find a TV to connect to Comcast cable, so I offered my advice. The wife wanted the CRT because it was only $100 or so, and the guy swore up-and-down that they HAD to have the flat panel because of the "analog shutoff", and the CRT would be worthless. I was honest and told them the $100 CRT would be good, but the guy refused to listen and spent ~$300 for the flat panel.

Basically he had been duped by all the "your television will stop working!" ads being run by the corporations, and thought the CRTs would be worthless. Likewise I'm sure someone will be duped by the 4G advertising too.

Re:orly? (3, Insightful)

Diomedes01 (173241) | more than 4 years ago | (#34130562)

Had he been duped? Or was he using it as an excuse to talk his wife into the fancy LCD TV?

Re:orly? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#34131654)

His wife knew all they needed was the cheap CRT.
He just was ignoring her.

Re:orly? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#34132528)

A fancy $300 LCD TV? What can you get for $300, even today, that you would describe as "fancy?"

Re:orly? (4, Insightful)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 4 years ago | (#34130898)

The problem then is that no company to date has "4g" service. Hell, most of them have 3G service only by a very loose definition. It seems that, so far no consumer has been mislead into thinking one particular service is better than another; they all stink!

That's exactly the problem he's talking about... By saying they have 4G service they are taking away customers from 3G providers.

If I have a choice between 2 phone providers, with everything being equal, each provider has a 50% shot at my money. If one of them falsely claims 4G coverage then the odds are I'll mistakenly choose them.

Re:orly? (1)

CheerfulMacFanboy (1900788) | more than 4 years ago | (#34131412)

That's exactly the problem he's talking about... By saying they have 4G service they are taking away customers from 3G providers.

If I have a choice between 2 phone providers, with everything being equal, each provider has a 50% shot at my money. If one of them falsely claims 4G coverage then the odds are I'll mistakenly choose them.

But if the other belongs to those who "have 3G service only by a very loose definition", you'll end up with the better one anyway.

Re:orly? (1, Informative)

PRMan (959735) | more than 4 years ago | (#34130952)

G originally meant "generation". Sprint's 2G network was better than their first one. It really caught on with 3G so that people understood that they were advertising a 3rd, different thing. Since this is Sprint's 4th network, I really don't see how some outsider can come in and say, "it's not a 4G network".

1G was around the same speed as 128kbps ISDN. I had a phone that used this. It was slow.

2G was around DSL speed (about 450kbps). It was better than before, but still very slow.

3G was around fast DSL speed (about 1.2MB). It's also known as EV-DO and I use that now. It's pretty decent for a phone, and even tethered.

4G is the new super-fast 3-6mbps.

From the Wikipedia topic on 4G:

The nomenclature of the generations generally refers to a change in the fundamental nature of the service, non-backwards compatible transmission technology, and new frequency bands. The first was the move from 1981 analog (1G) to digital (2G) transmission in 1992. This was followed, in 2002, by 3G multi-media support, spread spectrum transmission and at least 200 kbit/s, soon expected to be followed by 4G, which refers to all-IP packet-switched networks, mobile ultra-broadband (gigabit speed) access and multi-carrier transmission.

Re:orly? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#34131054)

Because you are totally wrong, that is why an outsider has a say so.

Gs are an ITU standard.

Re:orly? (4, Informative)

satsuke (263225) | more than 4 years ago | (#34131476)

Your speeds are off by about a decimal place. In mobile data terms and technical terms it breaks down like this

1G = analog / AMPS service or similiar .. 2400bp/s on a good day plus whatever hardware error correction and data compression (MNP10) -- circuit switched technology (your taking a line on the tower
2G = CDMA / GSM(CDPD) base speed data - circuit switched at 9600bp/s
2.5G = packet switched CDMA 1X / GSM GPRS or EDGE .. nominally max 144kb/s .. usually 50-70kb/s .. GSM had different EDGE profiles for higher speeds .. but the base was in this range
3G = CDMA 1XEVDO / GSM HSDPA .. 3.1mb/s on CDMA .. up to 14.4mb/s and higher on GSM (though getting a contiguous spectrum block available for the full speed is problematic when mixed with voice traffic and paging channels
3.5G = current spec WIMAX and LTE .. nominal 10mb/s down .. biggest difference is it scales to higher data rates based on number of users .. whereas say 3G CDMA might have 3.1mb/s per sector .. wimax / LTE can deliver this per user given enough spectrum
4G = most recently published goalpost .. something like 100mb/s sustained mobile and higher in fixed / limited mobility scenarios .. WIMAX2 / LTE Advanced

Re:orly? (2, Funny)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 4 years ago | (#34131618)

Mod parent up, but modestly. After all, parent is speaking factually, and not in marketing speak.

Re:orly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#34133096)

I wish that they had to just advertise how much bandwidth they are actually delivering you. Being on a 100mb/s LTE Advanced connection isn't going to mean anything if the bandwidth they have running to the tower only allows me to get a 15kb/s download. If that were the rule then AT&T wouldn't even have been allowed to say they had 3G coverage in my area till this month.

Re:orly? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#34133034)

"Since this is Sprint's 4th network, I really don't see how some outsider can come in and say, "it's not a 4G network"."

Because "4G" has become an industry catchphrase, and because that's what standards bodies do: they say "This is how we define X. Anybody who would like to follow our lead is welcome to do so."

And people and companies do, because in general, standards are a good thing to have.

There was a time when there was no national, much less international, standard for a "foot" of distance, or a "pound" of weight. Every region had their own interpretation (just as Sprint would like to have theirs). Eventually, when trade among different areas became widespread, it behooved everyone to have standards so that nobody felt cheated.

It has been that way for, hm... I would say well over a thousand years, at least. What makes you think we should change now?

Re:orly? (3, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#34129748)

Not only is it EASY to get harsh, but when companies flatly lie to customers, the price *should* be many times the amount of profit they made using the lie. Brushing it off as "only a marketing catch-phrase" is ignorant at best.

I agree. It's bad enough when large corporations capture the agencies supposed to be regulating them. Why are we giving them the benefit of the doubt? What the fuck for? WHat have they ever done for anything other than their shareholders? They can't even live up to the extremely low standards the industry has set for itself, and we're supposed to feel sorry for them? I'll say we're being to harsh on these companies if and when we consider hanging the executives for rounding up to the nearest minute. Reserving judgement for using sleazy marketing terms? No, judge away. I will give them the benefit of the doubt that they're not trying to stagnate the whole mobile industry so they never have to upgrade their equipment again, but they are definitely lying through their teeth.

Re:orly? (1)

Snotman (767894) | more than 4 years ago | (#34129806)

If Sprint coined the term before the ITU, is there maybe a trademark issue here? Can Sprint claim to have the trademark and force the ITU to rename what it considers 4G? I think that is probably the best solution and then Sprint can keep the term and not be in hot water with a class action over false advertising. In any case, I don't think marketing cares. A class action for being wrong may still leave their strategy to deceive profitable and with more customers.

Re:orly? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#34131070)

No the best case would be for Sprint to stop being shysters.

Re:orly? (3, Insightful)

jpolonsk (739332) | more than 4 years ago | (#34129998)

The definition of 3G is 3rd generation. Sprint has been using the term 4G to mean 4th generation. 3G was only loosely defined and the ITU has now decided to arbitrarily specify stricter standards for 4G. The confusion is already here and this isn't a black and white issue. It's similar to the USB Highspeed, fullspeed or wireless N debacle. Yeah it's annoying but for the most part consumers don't care and anyone technical enough to care is going to do the research anyway.

Re:orly? (4, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#34132040)

Sprint has been using the term 4G to mean 4th generation. 3G was only loosely defined and the ITU has now decided to arbitrarily specify stricter standards for 4G.

International Telecommunication Union Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) says 4G != fourth generation

Sprint can call a brick a plane if they want, but there's a reason we have international standards bodies.
Remember when all those wireless-n cards were advertised as "draft n"? That's the right way to do it.

I think the moral of the story here is not to advertise using the name of an unfinished spec.

Re:orly? (1)

Lanir (97918) | more than 4 years ago | (#34131278)

Not only is it EASY to get harsh, but when companies flatly lie to customers, the price *should* be many times the amount of profit they made using the lie. Brushing it off as "only a marketing catch-phrase" is ignorant at best.

Hrm. You know, since they have the right to free speech now (THANK YOU, oh benevolent and wise US Supreme Court, next let's revive indentured servitude just for kicks), maybe you can sue them for slandering the 4G brand as well as false advertising? With new power comes new lawsuits. It's the American way.

Re:orly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#34131692)

maybe you can sue them for slandering the 4G brand as well as false advertising?

Since Sprint's use of 4G predated the ITU's use, the ITU would probably lose.

Re:orly? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 4 years ago | (#34132066)

You are presuming that the ITU gets to be the one and only one organization to define "4G".

Great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#34129466)

Does this mean I can get out of my contract now without an ETF?

Now with 11G (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#34129490)

These phones now go to 11.

Re:Now with 11G (1)

CompMD (522020) | more than 4 years ago | (#34130636)

3G, 4G, 5G, 11G, heck, its probably H!

I wish they called it 3.5G... (2, Interesting)

mlts (1038732) | more than 4 years ago | (#34129508)

I guess marketing won out. 4G is everything on data, while 3G is data/voice separated.

T-Mobile has been having some very competitive speed rates compared to Sprint/Clear's WiMax service, so anyone who offers faster wireless speeds is appreciated.

Now, if we can firmly plan the boot in the derriere of the cellular companies and get them to start getting Advanced LTE out on a large scale, we'll be set.

Re:I wish they called it 3.5G... (2, Informative)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#34129634)

HSPA+ supports a pure data layer, though I'm not sure if this is the mode T-mobile rolled out.

Re:I wish they called it 3.5G... (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 4 years ago | (#34130010)

I am guessing they didn't, although I could be absolutely wrong. From what I get, HSPA+ is being rolled out as an incremental feature to get T-Mobile competing with Sprint/Clear. Since it does not require much tower modification, nor adding of new towers, it is a good interim upgrade until Advanced LTE [1] gets deployed.

It levels the playing field. AT&T has the iPhone. Sprint has 4G/Clear. T-Mobile has Wi-Max bandwidth on GSM devices. Verizon Wireless has the top tier Android devices.

[1]: IIRC, LTE is not truly "4G", but Advanced LTE is.

Re:I wish they called it 3.5G... (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#34130222)

T-Mobile already supports UMA so they probably have the infrastructure to go pure IP, it probably came down to whether switching out boards in the towers was more expensive than the savings on backhaul connections. Overall I don't care whether it's called 4G or not, it's plenty fast and competes well against the top tier offering from their competitors (possibly better due to lower user numbers and hence lower contention ratios).

Re:I wish they called it 3.5G... (3, Funny)

drunken-yeti (1874620) | more than 4 years ago | (#34130746)

So ISDN is pure digital and ADSL is analog converted into digital at the DSLAM, so I should go with ISDN right......

Re:I wish they called it 3.5G... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#34130800)

Umm, Sprint and Verizon's CDMA network has always treated "voice" as data, it just didn't have the capacity/protocols to support interleaving of "voice" and "data" data at the same time till EVDO-RevA. BTW Sprint and Verizon still don't allow "data" data connections during "voice" data connections on their EVDORevA networks, but it's a carrier decision, not a limitation of the protocol.

Promise.... Longer word for LIE! (1)

mycomputerlady (1934946) | more than 4 years ago | (#34129520)

I think it will be a long while before we see this follow through! I have heard Sprint talk about 4G and how great their service is... but I have yet to see them follow through on that!

"it seems hard to condemn companies too harshly" (5, Insightful)

Animaether (411575) | more than 4 years ago | (#34129538)

it seems hard to condemn companies too harshly for using a marketing catch-phrase.

Hmm, no.. I'm not finding myself having any trouble doing this whatsoever.

Everybody knew there would be -a standard- referred to as 4G eventually... hijacking that for "marketing catch phrase" purposes gains them no sympathy other than from other marketeers.

Think of it this way.. if Microsoft were to start offering "IE9 with HTML 6 support" where "HTML 6" is not clearly defined, would you have any trouble whatsoever condemning them?

Re:"it seems hard to condemn companies too harshly (1)

Snotman (767894) | more than 4 years ago | (#34129836)

The question is even if there was a plan, had the term 4G been trademarked previously? If not, then wouldn't Sprint own the term irrespective of what the crystal ball foretells.

Re:"it seems hard to condemn companies too harshly (1)

suutar (1860506) | more than 4 years ago | (#34130684)

Only if Sprint registered it, and a search at the PTO doesn't seem to indicate that it has been. (I'm not surprised, '4G' is really about as generic as '486', and that was declared untrademarkable... hence the term 'Pentium').

Re:"it seems hard to condemn companies too harshly (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#34131734)

Then it also hasn't been trademarked by the ITU.

I don't see how this is intentionally misleading - it definitely is Sprints fourth generation network, which is what 4G stands for. If anything it's the ITU who has hijacked something here, not Sprint.

Besides, 1G-4G are as much standards as the OSI model of networks is a standard. They aren't really standards, they are just categorizations of different mobile technologies. The actual standards, like CDMA, GSM, EDGE, EVDO, HSPA, etc. are inside the loose categorizations.

How fair is it that after T-Mobile and Sprint roll out their 4G network technologies the ITU arbitrarily decides these fourth generation networks aren't fourth generation networks? Who's really being heavy-handed here?

Re:"it seems hard to condemn companies too harshly (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#34130224)

GSM/UMTS is a standard. CDMA2000 is a standard.

3G and 4G are not standards. They're marketing terms to describe the speed of data networks. 4G currently refers to anything drastically faster than 3G; how much faster is up for debate.

It's worth noting that HTML5 for a long time didn't have any kind of standards support, and was developed outside the W3C by Mozilla, Apple, and Opera.

W3C was paralyzed and useless (perhaps captured) (2, Informative)

rsborg (111459) | more than 4 years ago | (#34131296)

It's worth noting that HTML5 for a long time didn't have any kind of standards support, and was developed outside the W3C by Mozilla, Apple, and Opera.

They formed a new group, the WHATWG, and according to Wikipedia:

The WHATWG was formed in response to the slow development of web standards monitored by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), and its decision to abandon HTML in favor of XML-based technologies. The WHATWG mailing list was announced on 4 June 2004,[3] two days after the initiatives of a joint Opera–Mozilla position paper had been voted down by the W3C members at the W3C Workshop on Web Applications and Compound Documents.[4]

On 10 April 2007, the Mozilla Foundation, Apple and Opera Software proposed[5] that the new HTML working group of the W3C adopt the WHATWG’s HTML5 as the starting point of its work and name its future deliverable "HTML5". On 9 May 2007, the new HTML working group resolved to do that.[6]

I don't remember browsers being marketed as being "HTML5 compatible" until there was a strong body of work identifying what HTML5 was.

If WHATWG didn't move forward, we'd still be trapped by the monstrosity that is XHTML. They forked, got momentum then unified their work back into W3C. They did it the right way.

Re:"it seems hard to condemn companies too harshly (1)

TrancePhreak (576593) | more than 4 years ago | (#34130380)

This already happens, except with all companies with browsers. HTML5 is not a complete spec, nor will it be until around 2012. Any browser saying it is HTML5 is doing the same as T-mobile/Sprint were saying they are 4G.

Re:"it seems hard to condemn companies too harshly (1)

bwayne314 (1854406) | more than 4 years ago | (#34130782)

a better example is if Ford started to market their new cars "with full support for hovercraft landing pads"

Re:"it seems hard to condemn companies too harshly (1)

PRMan (959735) | more than 4 years ago | (#34130976)

If HTML1-5 were used freely by manufacturers and then they suddenly had their terminology hijacked by a standards body for HTML6, then not really, no.

Re:"it seems hard to condemn companies too harshly (1)

rrhal (88665) | more than 4 years ago | (#34131056)

Face it - we'd condemn Microsoft even if it actually did have HTML 6 support. The level of truthyness acceptable in advertising is a pretty low bar; consider "This is the famous Budweiser beer. We know of no brand produced by any other brewer which costs to much to brew and age..."

ITU Can shove it (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#34129568)

As much as i'd love to have the speeds the ITU declares 4g, I find it extremely rude they put such a high "requirement" to label 4G after 4G has been used as the name for the next level of speeds already.

Sprints WiMax network IS a different technology that gives higher speeds than 3G, so why wouldn't it be called 4G? its the 4th generation of tech.

For the ITU to come and say "no, you're not 4G, your 3.5G" is stupid.

They need to make their specs 6G or so, as for now those requirements are pretty far fetched.

Ignore the ITU, Sprint and Verizon do have 4G, just someones getting a lil too hopeful in the ITU dept.

When standards places start getting unrealistic, they lose the value of trying to follow them...

Re:ITU Can shove it (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 4 years ago | (#34129780)

Well G5 is still up for grabs so far...

Re:ITU Can shove it (1)

countSudoku() (1047544) | more than 4 years ago | (#34130552)

Cool, can I have that Mac? If it's still up for grabs, that is. I want it to keep it below OS X Lion; The Closed App OS.

Re:ITU Can shove it (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 4 years ago | (#34133266)

Or at least tie it to something that isn't arbitrary. For instance call 10mbs 10M, 100mbs 100M etc...

Re:ITU Can shove it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#34133412)

They're not just pulling numbers out of a hat with their "high" requirement, it's based on the expected evolution of understood technologies.

I find it rude for Sprint to advertise something as "4G" which is matched or exceed in speed by todays 3G networks. Just because it's "different" doesn't make it next generation. It needs to actually surpass current generation to be next generation.

Granted if you're on an EV-DO based CDMA network, your speeds capped out at a tiny fraction of the 4G spec. But no worry, that's what the 3G technologies known as WiMax and LTE are here for. To hold you over for a few years till we get real 4G speeds.

Re:ITU Can shove it (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 4 years ago | (#34134288)

Well, if it surpasses their 3G network they can call it 4G. And the other, faster providers could just agree that *G is a pure marketing term and go and calling their networks 5G, 6G...

Re:ITU Can shove it (1)

lmnfrs (829146) | more than 4 years ago | (#34133544)

Sprints WiMax network IS a different technology that gives higher speeds than 3G, so why wouldn't it be called 4G? its the 4th generation of tech.

It could just be called WiMax. It's not actually the fourth generation, it's just a new generation after 3G and 3.5G were prominent.

Yes I can... (2, Insightful)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 4 years ago | (#34129624)

condemn them harshly. I'm tired of marketing speech in lieu of specific, technical, facts. It become so much easier for average Joe consumer to believe in unicorns and white elephants when the marketing department is in charge. Unicorns and white elephants of course come with lofty price tags and a greater popularity which exclude legitimately superior products from the market.

Re:Yes I can... (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 4 years ago | (#34130360)

technical facts like it operates differently, using different equipment, and is faster?

Re:Yes I can... (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#34131754)

Facts like it's the fourth generation of network technology and is significantly faster than previous technologies, right?

Oh wait, if you include those facts you must conclude that the ITU is being a bunch of arrogant assholes, and T-Mobile and Sprint are absolutely correct calling their technologies 4G.

Stupid ITU (5, Informative)

pavon (30274) | more than 4 years ago | (#34129668)

This is stupid. The designators 2G 3G 4G have never been anything but simplistic marketing terms for grouping protocols with similar relative performance relative. LTE and WiMax both deliver significant improvements over previous technologies, so they need some designator to describe this to the general public. ITU drew an arbitrary line that excludes these technologies from being called 4G, while incremental improvements on them (LTE Advanced) do qualify. Why should a major upgrade be given a .5 designator, while minor improvement on that increments the major number?

These networks aren't any less capable as a result of ITUs announcement - it is the term 4G that is now less useful.

Re:Stupid ITU (4, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#34129744)

Exactly. The terms just mean the new generation of technology, an informal thing at best. It's like game consoles. Every cycle you have the "next generation" consoles. It's just a way to informally let someone know which cycle the technology comes from, relative to the current one in use and the new one being rolled in. Why don't people get up in arms about actual objective claims, like bandwidth or whatever?

Re:Stupid ITU (1)

mmaniaci (1200061) | more than 4 years ago | (#34132570)

It's just a way to informally let someone know which cycle the technology comes from, relative to the current one in use and the new one being rolled in.

Not it isn't. They are not saying they have the "next generation" technology... they would say exactly that if it was the case. What they are doing is abusing consumers' lack of networking and electronics knowledge in order to increase profits. Nobody [that isn't a techie] knows what speed their cellphone transfers data at. They wouldn't know what the number really meant if they did, too. That is probably how they justified all this nG bullshit to begin with. On the other hand, consumers can compare one number to another if they understand that more is better. With the mystical "4G" service, we are not able to do this simple comparison and thus cannot be well informed about their purchase. This is exactly what the FCC should be trying to stop.

Re:Stupid ITU (1)

gblackwo (1087063) | more than 4 years ago | (#34129920)

No, The cellphone world managed just fine before the labeling of generations and the creation of "2G". It was only after they realized they could entice people into buying new phones every year by changing a moniker that they started doing it annually despite whether or not there were major changes in the hardware or not.

Re:Stupid ITU (1)

PRMan (959735) | more than 4 years ago | (#34130994)

There's only been 4 generations in a span of about 10 years that I have had a phone, so the generations are more like every 2.5 years.

I wish one of them offered zero G (1)

orphiuchus (1146483) | more than 4 years ago | (#34129690)

I'm really sick of people being able to get in contact with me whenever they want, it makes it very hard to nap in the afternoon. What I want is a carrier to offer a service that causes me to not get all the stupid calls that cut into relaxation time.--- Boss: "Why didn't you answer your phone last night, I had a stupid problem that should have wasted hours of your time!" Me: "Oh, sorry, my new Zero G cell phone only takes calls from people within 25 feet of me and only works from 8am-4pm with two hours off for lunch." Boss: "Oh, ok. Keep up the good work".

Re:I wish one of them offered zero G (3, Insightful)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 4 years ago | (#34130238)

My Blackberry Bold 9700 offers this service. It is called OFF. You activate this service by pressing the red key on the front panel. Alternatively, you can also activate this service by doing a battery pull hard reboot and setting the phone and battery down side by side. The OFF function will remain activated until you reinsert the battery in the morning or after your nap. I believe that most mobile phones come with this feature, although the location and color of the button may vary by manufacturer and model.

Re:I wish one of them offered zero G (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#34130482)

Isn't that what the power button is for? I'm pretty sure all mobile phones have had such an option for... ever?

I prefer calling it Airplane Mode (1)

rsborg (111459) | more than 4 years ago | (#34131320)

I can still have my alarms go off (an hour early sometimes!) and play my precious games without being bothered by a call.

Who Cares about standards anymore (1)

LowerTheBar (1741458) | more than 4 years ago | (#34129696)

I have been working in the IT/Telecom/Wireless areana for 15 years now, and everytime one of those Sprint 4G adds come on, my blood really begins to boil - my wife doesn't understand why this gets me angry (she is not technical at all). I wish that people/companies/marketing would get the fact that there are standards and "bending the truth" does actually do harm. Language means something, standards mean something.

Well what IS 4G then? (2, Insightful)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 4 years ago | (#34129700)

The article wasn't very enlightening. So what is the standard for 4G?

Re:Well what IS 4G then? (2, Funny)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#34129766)

It's G more than 3G.

Sheesh.

Re:Well what IS 4G then? (2, Funny)

Scatterplot (1031778) | more than 4 years ago | (#34129878)

T-Mobile, now with 33% more G!

Re:Well what IS 4G then? (1)

brainboyz (114458) | more than 4 years ago | (#34130024)

"Give me the more Gs! I need more Gs."

Re:Well what IS 4G then? (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 4 years ago | (#34130742)

I've got a fever. And the only prescription... is more G!

This one goes to 11G.

It's like, how much more G could this be? and the answer is none. None more G.

Re:Well what IS 4G then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#34129786)

From Wikipedia:

An IMT-Advanced cellular system must have target peak data rates of up to approximately 100 Mbit/s for high mobility such as mobile access and up to approximately 1 Gbit/s for low mobility such as nomadic/local wireless access, according to the ITU requirements. Scalable bandwidths up to at least 40 MHz should be provided.

Re:Well what IS 4G then? (2, Interesting)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 4 years ago | (#34129862)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4G [wikipedia.org]

All those "#G" designations are all pretty much bald-faced marketing lies... that barely even correspond to the (pretty useful) table at the bottom of that wikipedia page.

FWIW, the "3.5G" HSDPA network that T-Mobile has deployed works pretty damn well on my HTC Slide Android phone (running CyanogenMOD 6.0 ~= Froyo 2.2). The latency is noticeably lower than EDGE or 3G, and the Xtremelabs Speedtest routinely returns over 1Mbps downlink on their network.

They're probably "rounding up" for marketing purposes, but regardless of that, I'm pretty happy with T-Mobile's relatively cheap plans and just-enough-to-work technology deployment and service. Not to mention that they throw most features in by default and don't nickle-and-dime you to death for call forwarding, blocking, and voicemail features like some other carriers *cough*Verizon*cough*

Re:Well what IS 4G then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#34130508)

IMT-Advanced

Re:Well what IS 4G then? (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 4 years ago | (#34130892)

Oh, well that makes it completely clear!

Re:Well what IS 4G then? (2, Insightful)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#34131770)

It's whatever the ITU made up, because apparently they are gods and all must bow down to their loose definitions of cellphone technologies.

Never mind the fact that 4G actually means fourth generation, and these new technologies are in fact fourth generation mobile technologies. Nope, forget all that, it's whatever the ITU wants it to be.

T-mobile's G2 doesn't even distinguish (2, Informative)

rta (559125) | more than 4 years ago | (#34129772)

T-mobile's own 4G "launch" phone doesn't distinguish in the interface between the HSPA "3G" and the HSPA+ "4G" as far as i can tell. The user interface used to say "G" "E" "3G" for GPRS, EDGE and HSPA now was just changed to say "G", "E" and "H" as far as i can tell.

Also, i live in one of the cities that supposedly has this coverage but I still only see speeds usually less than 1 Mbps down though now i get almost 2Mbps upload speed for whatever that's worth. Perhaps i should go around downtown in search of the supposed fast speeds.

Fortunately, 1 Meg is fine for my usage of the phone as i just use it for maps, web browsing and email etc, and the G2 has been a good phone, but the marketing around this stuff is deplorable as usual. (I say as usual because i've been paying for their unlimited data plan for something like 7 years now and the actual capabilities of the phones/network pretty much lag the advertising by one full generation.)

Downtown Signal (1)

lmnfrs (829146) | more than 4 years ago | (#34133574)

Don't actually go downtown for better speed, unless you're in a very small town. Buildings do nothing but deflect signals. Signal strength is likely better in a downtown park, even if it's full of trees, than between buildings.

The Law: (1)

Sonny Yatsen (603655) | more than 4 years ago | (#34129826)

15 USC 1125(a) says:

(a) Civil action
(1) Any person who, on or in connection with any goods or services, or any container for goods, uses in commerce any word, term, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof, or any false designation of origin, false or misleading description of fact, or false or misleading representation of fact, which—
(A) is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive as to the affiliation, connection, or association of such person with another person, or as to the origin, sponsorship, or approval of his or her goods, services, or commercial activities by another person, or
(B) in commercial advertising or promotion, misrepresents the nature, characteristics, qualities, or geographic origin of his or her or another person’s goods, services, or commercial activities,
shall be liable in a civil action by any person who believes that he or she is or is likely to be damaged by such act.

C'mon, consumers, let's get lawsuity.

Re:The Law: (1)

PRMan (959735) | more than 4 years ago | (#34131010)

his or her or another person’s goods, services, or commercial activities"

So, you're saying that ITU-R should be careful here?

Re:The Law: (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#34131792)

What did they misrepresent? It is in fact the fourth generation of cell phone communications technology.

If anything it's the ITU's definition that is misleading, as it will take at least three more generations of cell tech to reach "4G".

Either way, it doesnt matter. (1)

nimbius (983462) | more than 4 years ago | (#34129874)

you're being told to buy something new and expensive, and you're being told lies about it. this hasnt changed for the majority of the technological frontiers expansion. the gigabyte was 1024 megs, you were told a nice even 1000.
computer monitors often had higher resolution than 1080P, you were told 1080p trumped all other image quality standards.
retina displays in iphones delivered a sharper display, you were told the display allowed "the highest resolution phone ever"
carriers routinely drop and mangle calls, offer shit dataservice, and overcharge. you were told they never dropped calls, offered the fastest internet, and offered affordable plans for the whole family.

Doesn't 4G mean "4th Generation"? (1)

znerk (1162519) | more than 4 years ago | (#34129876)

How can there be any ambiguity about this? Either it's 4th Generation, or it's not. One of the linked articles talk about how "T-Mobile's '4G' network is based on a technology called HSPA+. For years, it has been considered more of a 3.5G technology than real 4G."

No such thing as a half-gen. A generation is simply a (hopefully improved) iteration of a specific thing. The ITU issuing a statement as to what they think 4G is becomes meaningless, if you're trying to use an inappropriate term to describe something; It would be like measuring length in "purples". I already didn't attach any significance to the term "4G", at least not pertaining to speed, because it seemed nonsensical to do so. Advertisers like to use buzzwords, sure, but if you're going to attempt to regulate that by defining the buzzwords as something that cannot etymologically be explained in that manner, then I'll start ignoring the definitions, too.

"I'm going to orange my jumping until it shifts orangutans." Stick that in your buzzword pipe and snorkel it.

If you want to get right down to it, the generations should be described as something like this:

G1: Can-and-string voice communications
G2: Wired voice communications
G3: Wireless voice communications
G4: ??? (Cybernetically-implanted wireless voice communications, maybe?)

Anything short of that won't be 4G enough. "Using 'generation' to describe speed" appears to be the issue, here, and it may be disingenuous for the advertisers to take advantage of consumers' lack of knowledge, but I can't assign blame (or responsibility) to them for their customers' ignorance.

--
No, I didn't read the article. Did you?

Re:Doesn't 4G mean "4th Generation"? (1)

adavies42 (746183) | more than 4 years ago | (#34129964)

G4: ??? (Cybernetically-implanted wireless voice communications, maybe?)

i'd say either neutrino-based (no reception problems in the subway!), quantum-entanglement-based (zero lag, guaranteed!), or tachyon-based (get the message before it's sent!). just moving the phone to the inside of my head isn't worth a major version number bump.

Re:Doesn't 4G mean "4th Generation"? (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 4 years ago | (#34130834)

i'd say either neutrino-based (no reception problems in the subway!)

The good news is that holding the phone "the wrong way" doesn't affect reception either. The bad news is that the antenna is 1/2 light-year of lead. (Apple wanted to use neutronium, but it decays explosively when removed from Steve's RDF. Apple R&D is undertaking extensive marketing^Wresearch activity to address this.)

quantum-entanglement-based (zero lag, guaranteed!)

I hear that Sprint and HTC are signing up Gordon Freeman as their new spokes-scientist. Bad choice. Alyx Vance would have been much more effective. I mean, does Gordon Freeman even speak?

tachyon-based (get the message before it's sent!)

I must have something like this already, because the voice in my head is always telling me how badly my decisions will turn out just after I make a decision but before all the consequences. Get out of my head, temporal-causality-violator!

Re:Doesn't 4G mean "4th Generation"? (1)

prockcore (543967) | more than 4 years ago | (#34131028)

I love that the ITU is trying to standardize what is basically a version number.

It'd be like saying "Chrome 7 can't possibly be called that because it's doesn't match our standards for what a Version 7 browser does".

Re:Doesn't 4G mean "4th Generation"? (2, Informative)

Miamicanes (730264) | more than 4 years ago | (#34131400)

> How can there be any ambiguity about this? Either it's 4th Generation, or it's not.

Er, no it's not, In Sprint's universe, at least (where international standards in general, and GSM in particular, are largely irrelevant), WiMax IS unambiguously their fourth major leap forward, and arguably their fourth major modulation change.

0G: prehistoric insofar as SprintPCS goes (Sprint Spectrum existed, but it was a totally unrelated company owned by Sprint that ended up being sold off and eventually agglomerating into the company that's now T-Mobile)

1G: IS95 -- CDMA voice with 9.6kbit/sec circuit-switched data

2G: CDMA2000 voice with 1xRTT data. Data is now adhoc, but still uses the same fundamental modulation scheme as voice. You can have one or the other, but not both at the same time. ~80-160kbit/sec real-world data speeds.

3G: CDMA2000 voice with EVDO data. Unlike 1xRTT, EVDO has a fundamentally different air interface. It's basically CDMA2000 overlaid onto time-division multiplexing. Real-world data speeds in the neighborhood of 250-600kbit/sec.

4G: CDMA 2000 voice with WiMax data. Utterly, totally, and completely different air interface ("radio"), with real-world data speeds in the neighborhood of 1-6mbit/sec (theoretically seen as high as 10mbit down and 1.2mbit up, with the main limit being Sprint/Clear's Tier-1 connectivity to the rest of the internet itself). 4G also adds another important new capability to Sprintland -- simultaneous voice and data.

The same argument can be made for Verizon, substituting "LTE" for "WiMax" in 4G. The truth is, there's nothing holy about Verizon's LTE. The Pope, Obama, Oprah, Justin Timberlake, Steve Jobs, and Lady Gaga could all personally bless its LTE'ness, and it still won't change the almost nonexistent likelihood that a nominally-LTE phone from AT&T (or Europe) will be able to successfully make use of it in any meaningful way. In real terms, Sprint/Clear WiMax and Verizon LTE are basically the K56flex and X2 of 4G wireless. Neither one is likely to go away soon (in the US, at least), because neither one really has any REASON to go away... they can both share the same spectrum (no need to set aside one chunk for LTE, and another separate chunk for WiMax), and making a radio at the tower end that can deal with both isn't a huge problem, because they differ mainly with respect to what happens AFTER you've decoded them to a a raw bitstream.

If anyone's being dishonest, it's T-Mobile. In the case of Verizon and Sprint, the ITU's official definition of "4G" is about as directly relevant to real-world networks as the OSI network model (it looks nice on paper, but it's basically impossible to cleanly map it to reality without putting dozens of asterisks and footnotes qualifying judgment calls about how to classify things). On the other hand, in the "GSM" universe, it could be argued that the ITU's definition has a much, much stronger and more clearly-defined meaning, partly because the ITU's own model is largely based on the way "GSM" works.

Then again, T-Mobile's innocence or guilt is a toss-up anyway. Where it works, it's almost as fast as Sprint's WiMax. However, Sprint's WiMax gives its customers 2-6mbit data speeds today in neighborhoods where T-Mobile customers are lucky to have viable EDGE -- even in cities that are alleged by T-Mobile to be solidly "4G". So, I'll give T-Mobile one point for being practically equivalent to Sprint anyway, then beat them up and kick them a little for wildly exaggerating their urban "4G" coverage area. In the 'burbs, it's not even a fair comparison... Sprint wins, hands down.

Re:Doesn't 4G mean "4th Generation"? (1)

znerk (1162519) | more than 4 years ago | (#34132720)

> How can there be any ambiguity about this? Either it's 4th Generation, or it's not.

Er, no it's not, In Sprint's universe, at least (where international standards in general, and GSM in particular, are largely irrelevant), WiMax IS unambiguously their fourth major leap forward, and arguably their fourth major modulation change.

I'm sorry, maybe I'm failing at reading comprehension; are you arguing for or against this being 4G?

Failing that, since you seem to be arguing both sides... are you sure you're replying to the correct post?

Re:Doesn't 4G mean "4th Generation"? (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 4 years ago | (#34134368)

No, we're talking about mobile phone technologies. A more reasonable generation list would be this:

G1: Analog.
G2: Digital.
G3: Even more descretized than digital. Perhaps using a full byte to encode each bit.
G4: Using digital technology to run a physical simulation of a G3 telephone performing the call. The towers are also running simulations of G3 towers.
G5: Marketed as the mobile network of the future but it runs too hot and IBM can't deliver enough units.

The Solution. . . (3, Insightful)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 4 years ago | (#34129994)

The Solution for the ITU, FCC, et al., is to abandon the term '4G' - it's already out in the wild. I don't think they can really enforce this - basically, Sprint, etc. are 'grandfathered'. Back when 2G, or 3G were being considered, an appropriate standards body like the ITU should have Trademarked the term 4G, so this could never have happened. But it has, too bad.

So the answer is to create a new, catchy trademarked term, which people can only use the trademark if they *actually conform to the standard*. Something similar in concept to the "Wifi" trademark - I may be wrong, but I believe you cannot call your product "Wifi" if it actually isn't fully conforming, because it's a trademark of the Wi-Fi Alliance, and you need permission from the trademark holder. The problem with "4G" was that companies started using it before anyone had trademarked it, so if it's demonstrably better than '3G', and there's no definition of '4G', I suppose you can't really say it's *not* 4G. Someone else can't come along after the fact and define 4G after someone's already started using it.

Re:The Solution. . . (1)

KZigurs (638781) | more than 4 years ago | (#34131478)

Hmm... Will 5G do?
Catchy, cool and best of all - perfectly fine to use*.

*Until somebody bothers to define it and we have to move on to more Gs' again.

Easy Solution - 5G! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#34130006)

If 4G is now defined and incorrect for Sprint and T-Mobile to use, the solution is simple - they should start advertising their networks as 5G, since it's not defined yet.

Then when 5G is ratified, they can claim they were years ahead of the competition, and technology for that matter...

Beware evildoers! (1)

RevWaldo (1186281) | more than 4 years ago | (#34130112)

But now that the ITU has provided a standard against which the FCC and FTC can judge truth in advertising, T-Mobile's new 4G ad campaign is a 'bald-faced lie,' Gruman writes."

This looks like a job for... Felten-man!! [slashdot.org] Dum-Da-Da-Dum!!!!

Gruman said it wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#34130422)

He meant bold-faced lie, not bald-faced. See here for proof: http://goo.gl/GOShs (it's a google-fight link in case I mistyped it).

Re:Gruman said it wrong (1)

Sky-217 (44374) | more than 4 years ago | (#34132268)

He meant bold-faced lie, not bald-faced. See here for proof: http://goo.gl/GOShs [goo.gl] (it's a google-fight link in case I mistyped it).

Except if you put the phrases in quotes... then "bald-faced lie" wins.
http://www.googlefight.com/index.php?lang=en_GB&word1=%22bald-faced+lie%22&word2=%22bold-faced+lie%22 [googlefight.com]

Since I'm not sure if the parent was a joke or not, I won't bother finding a credible source.

you insen[Sitive clod! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#34130774)

Fuck everything, we're doing 5G (1)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 4 years ago | (#34130828)

Would someone tell me how this happened? We were the fucking vanguard of cell data in this country. The AT&T iPhone was the phone to own. Then the other guy came out with a 3G phone and service plan. Were we scared? Hell, no. Because we hit back with a little thing called the 3GS. That's three g's and an s. For something-or-other. But you know what happened next? Shut up, I'm telling you what happened—the bastards went to four g's. Now we're standing around with our cocks in our hands, selling three g's and an s. Defunct antenna or no, suddenly we're the chumps. Well, fuck it. We're going to five g's.

Sure, we could go to four g's next, like the competition. That seems like the logical thing to do. After all, three worked out pretty well, and four is the next number after three. So let's play it safe. Let's get a new iPhone and call it the 3GSTurbo. Why innovate when we can follow? Oh, I know why: Because we're a business, that's why!

You think it's crazy? It is crazy. But I don't give a shit. From now on, we're the ones who leave our customers using^W^W^W^W have the EDGE in the multi-g game. Are they the best a man can get? Fuck, no. AT&T is the best a man can get.

What part of this don't you understand? If two g's is good, and three g'sis better, obviously five g's would make us the best fucking cell network that ever existed. Comprende? We didn't claw our way to the top of the cellular provider game by clinging to the two-g industry standard. We got here by taking chances. Well, five g's is the biggest chance of all.

etc., etc.

Re:Fuck everything, we're doing 5G (1)

Miamicanes (730264) | more than 4 years ago | (#34131450)

> We were the fucking vanguard of cell data in this country. The AT&T iPhone was the phone to own.

Until, that is, they got owned by the Rogue Rooted Android Alliance ;-)

http://www.999plaza.com (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#34131964)

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Really? We Allow this S***? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#34132276)

I really find it offensive that T-Mobile is lying. If you cannot be honest in your offerings then you don't deserve me as your client. And I promise you you wont have me as one either why even try when the educated consumers will keep the non-educated from making foolish decisions. The ones that slip through will find it out and make them pay class action style. Its a bad stupid circle that T-Mobile is just asking to get burned in. And as for the rest of the accusations of the ads, I have yet to find an Android Phone that goes toe to toe with my iPhone 4. Don't LIE T-Mobile, period.

Marketing catchphrase? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#34133432)

Oh, you mean like HTML5?

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