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

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  • by afidel ( 530433 ) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @04:57PM (#34129634)
    HSPA+ supports a pure data layer, though I'm not sure if this is the mode T-mobile rolled out.
  • Stupid ITU (Score:5, Informative)

    by pavon ( 30274 ) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @05:00PM (#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.

  • by rta ( 559125 ) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @05:07PM (#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.)

  • Re:orly? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 04, 2010 @05:35PM (#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? (Score:2, Informative)

    by PRMan ( 959735 ) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @06:59PM (#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.

  • by rsborg ( 111459 ) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @07:43PM (#34131296) Homepage

    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.

  • by Miamicanes ( 730264 ) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @07:54PM (#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:orly? (Score:5, Informative)

    by satsuke ( 263225 ) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @08:00PM (#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

I am more bored than you could ever possibly be. Go back to work.