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ITU's Definition Aside, T-Mobile Pushes 4G Label In New Ad Campaign 120

Posted by timothy
from the how-to-tick-off-buyers dept.
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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ITU's Definition Aside, T-Mobile Pushes 4G Label In New Ad Campaign

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  • orly? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pharmboy (216950) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @04:46PM (#34129464) Journal

    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? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jeffmeden (135043) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @04:49PM (#34129504) Homepage Journal

    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!

  • by Animaether (411575) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @04:51PM (#34129538) Journal

    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?

  • ITU Can shove it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 04, 2010 @04:53PM (#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...

  • Yes I can... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nethemas the Great (909900) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @04:56PM (#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.
  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @05:02PM (#34129700) Homepage

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

  • Re:Stupid ITU (Score:4, Insightful)

    by noidentity (188756) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @05:05PM (#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:orly? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by interkin3tic (1469267) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @05:06PM (#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? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brainboyz (114458) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @05:26PM (#34129982) Homepage

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

  • The Solution. . . (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JSBiff (87824) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @05:26PM (#34129994) Journal

    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:orly? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jpolonsk (739332) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @05:26PM (#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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 04, 2010 @05:43PM (#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.

  • by Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @05:44PM (#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:orly? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Diomedes01 (173241) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @06:17PM (#34130562)

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

  • Re:orly? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BradleyUffner (103496) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @06:51PM (#34130898) Homepage

    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.

  • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @08:43PM (#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.

  • Re:orly? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @09:25PM (#34132040) Journal

    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.

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