T-Mobile harps on about largest "4G" network

T-Mobile has launched an advert claiming the crown of the largest 4G network in the US, managing to wind up everyone from AT&T to Apple in the process.

A new advert shows the T-Mobile ‘4G’ network represented by a slim young lady holding a myTouch phone, while the iPhone 4 is depicted as man in a suit, with a bald wheezing man on his back representing the AT&T network. 

It is fairly obvious that T-Mobile is not going for a subtle approach then, using Apple’s own marketing ploy as a broadside against it and the AT&T phone network.  But it is T-Mobile’s bold claims to be a 4G network, and the largest at that, which are causing a bit of a furore. 

It may be that T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network is faster than its nearest competitor, Sprint, but there has been mass confusion over what actually constitutes a 4G network lately.  So it may even be fair to say that T-Mobile has been capitalising on the confusion, in the hope that the mere utterance of the phrase ‘4G’ will cause money to come flying out of customer’s pockets.

Essentially, in the advert T-Mobile defines itself in direct opposition to a 3G network.  With real 4G expected to reach speeds in the region of 100mbs it would appear that no-one is actually in a position to be making such bold claims at the moment.

T-Mobile’s new ‘4G’ network is apparently in the region of 21Mbps, theoretically, which is obviously very fast, but is more likely to represent a further stage of 3G than a next generation.

According to Technolog the Yankee Group reports: “Not only do nearly three-fourths of users not know or understand what 4G is, but after years of marketing efforts, more than half still don’t know what 3G is.” 

At the end of the day the confusion, which we can only see is being supported and generated by major companies such as T-Mobile, is likely to hit the customer hardest.

In Norway however, where a similar situation has been unfolding with 4G claims being made, clarity is beginning to be sought.  The Norwegian Consumer Ombudsman wrote to operator NetCom on Thursday to confirm whether it classed its LTE (Long Term Evolution) service as 4G following the International Telecommunications Union declaring that it would only be LTE Advanced that would be worthy of the  4G tag.  The Ombudsman said that if so it would be seen as false advertising. A reply is expected by 12 November.

Again it appears that a network is being hasty to describe itself as 4G as it appears to offer considerably faster speeds than 3G competitors, without actually reaching what seems to be considered the benchmark, which according to the ITU is in the region of 100Mbps.