T-Mobile Claiming '4G Speeds' To Pretend It's Offering 4G

from the nice-try dept

There’s just something about mobile operators that they love to make claims that are just sorta kinda true, while not really being true in spirit. This is the industry, of course, that has perfected “up to” marketing. As in “you should get speeds ‘up to’ xMbps” which, is technically true since any speed below that is covered, even if you’ll never get a speed anywhere near the defined “x.”

The other popular tactic is to lie about what kind of wireless network you’re actually offering. There were the claims that any wireless broadband solution was “WiMAX” back before the WiMAX standard was even set. So you started to get companies calling their solution “WiMAX” and then including all sorts of fine print about how it was “pre-WiMAX” and would certainly be upgraded to WiMAX once WiMAX actually existed.

Similarly, nearly a decade ago, when all the talk was about the upcoming “3G” networks, the mobile carriers all started pushing claims that they were offering “3G” when they absolutely were not. There were some interim “2.5G” steps, and some aggressive marketers just decided to round up. And, it looks like they’re doing that again. T-Mobile is going around claiming its HSPA+ network offers “4G speeds,” which, of course, is not to be confused with actual 4G. And, of course, this is an “up to” situation, where the network could, theoretically, sorta, kinda touch on “4G speeds,” but probably won’t for most people.

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Companies: t-mobile

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Comments on “T-Mobile Claiming '4G Speeds' To Pretend It's Offering 4G”

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25 Comments
Davey says:

Re: Re:

No, Gordon, it’s not just semantics, it’s intentional confusion — jumping on some other company’s actual achievement to seem to be just like it. The idea is obviously that most customers are not network specialists, so a lot of them will assume that “4G SPEEDS” means they’ll be getting whatever benefits real 4G is supposed to offer.

That said, TM is hardly alone in the industry-wide “up to” scam. But gods forbid the evil government should limit their freedom by regulating and standardizing their marketing practices.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

And what improvement does 4g offer? HSPA+ offers similar speeds to 4G, theoretical or not. Let’s remember, 4G speeds aren’t guaranteed either. HSPA+ goes up to 42 mbps (in 2009 tests by Ericsson), though its generally rated at 21 mbps, Verizon’s LTE (4g) speed is rated at 40-50 mbps, but actual speed tests show it to be between 5-12 mbps.

In March, PCWorld tested T-Mobile’s HSPA+ in New York, and got 3.5 mbps (real world, not theoretical).

Anonymous Coward says:

Thanks for letting me know that 4G isn't anywhere- home or where I travel.

The 3GPP workinggroup sets the definition for 3G datarates.

I’m sorry but after a little gumshoe research, this whole discussion is moot. One provider says that 4G coverage is only available in 11 states, and they only list a handful of cities (like 4 or 5) in each state.

It would be nice if WiMax providers had a map the showed their actual 4G coverage footprint, because I think a lot of people are going to be disappointed to find out that they have to move two states over to get a service the marketing department thinks is worth buying national ad time.

I couldn’t find any 4G coverage applicable to cities where I travel.

So, your article is wrong. It should read “WiMax Providers Claiming ‘National 4G Networks’ To Pretend It Has 4G Coverage”

So if someone says they can offer something similar to 4G speeds, and they happen to be in my state, I guess it will work better than, erm.. marketing?

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Thanks for letting me know that 4G isn't anywhere- home or where I travel.

Do more gumshoe research, then.

The ITU, not the 3GPP, defines what is and what is not 4G. And in fact, they will not even attempt to accept any technology as official 4G until their October meeting this year:
http://www.itu.int/net/pressoffice/press_releases/2009/48.aspx

In the meanwhile, they have defined what the specs should be of any technology that claims to be 4G. And the current version of WiMAX offered by Sprint and Clearwire falls woefully short. The ITU says average mobile download speeds should average 100Mbps!
http://www.lightreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=159765

So even the upcoming LTE version to be launched by Verizon and AT&T will not meet the current 4G requirements, and unless those are relaxed, will not be official 4G come the October ITU meeting. We will have to wait for later versions of LTE and WiMAX, which may be true 4G.

I am not so angry at T-Mo here. Sprint is using WiMAX, something that has been referred to as 4G for years now, although incorrectly. Some people think that any OFDM technology qualifies as 4G…clearly Sprint among them.

Meanwhile, T-Mo’s 3G HSPA+ network will likely have speeds about double those of Sprint’s “4G” WiMAX network. So T-Mo doesn’t want their BETTER performance saddled with a lower “G” number. T-Mo is just responding to Sprint…and we can be sure AT&T and VZW will follow suit.

It’s like Mike wrote: “they love to make claims that are just sorta kinda true, while not really being true in spirit.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Thanks for letting me know that 4G isn't anywhere- home or where I travel.

I knew you wrote this article for Mike. In fact, I debated providing your web address http://www.DerekKerton.com in my original dictum for good measure.

You, sir, are an incredible man. Don’t let the CTIA reports you plan to share, but never do, get you down.

An donkey can be measured in many different ways. Don’t be one.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Thanks for letting me know that 4G isn't anywhere- home or where I travel.

Well, you could start by admitting you were completely wrong about the 3GPP defining 4G, or trying to debate one of the points I made. Or providing a hyperlink with my name that goes to a live site, like http://www.kertongroup.com

I think the AC posed the question correctly by using the word “anything”. You’re the one who is supposed to figure out what of substance you might add.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Thanks for letting me know that 4G isn't anywhere- home or where I travel.

Um…what??.?

Why on earth would I write an article for Mike? I write for publicity, and to create a dated record of my positions. Giving Mike credit has zero appeal to me. Meanwhile, Mike is prolific enough on his own, and I doubt he would allow someone to attach his name to something he didn’t write – too risky for his reputation to have to stand behind someone else’s words.

The irony is that the TAMs on the comments normally accuse Mike of being every author and commenter on the blog. No one has ever accused other people of acting like Mike. So, in the conspiracy camp, you are a leader.

So, do you have any actual disagreement with what I wrote, or are you just being a tool for the fun of it?

Derek
P.S. wtf r u talking about vis a vis CTIA reports and donkeys?

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Sergio says:

T-Mo is right on this one

I have to defend T-Mo on this one (even though I’m not a customer of there’s any more, I still like them). In the current 4G market, they could even say “Better than 4G Speeds” without technically lying. If your 3G product is as good as your competitor’s product 4G product, but all your customers understand is “higher numbers are better”, you need to find a way to convey your position to them.

It’s like back in the P4/Athlon XP days when all people understood was MHz. AMD’s chips were clocked lower than Intel’s, but performance per MHz, AMD was blowing Intel out of the water. To compete with this, AMD named their processors in relation the Intel’s MHz, so, a 2,000MHz AMD chip was named Athlon XP 2600+ because it outperformed Intel’s Pentium 4 2,600MHz chip.

I saw nothing wrong with that practice and I see nothing wrong with T-Mobiles claim.

Anonymous Coward says:

T-Mobile is just following industry practice.

Their claim is aimed at confusing the customer, but well within the “ethical” parameters of telco/cable/dish marketing practices. It’s long past time for regulations that mandate standardized disclosures with all marketing materials, much like credit card issuers and pharma companies are required to provide.

The “up to” scam is shameless, but barely scratches the surface of deceptive marketing in every segment of these industries. Try figuring out from an ad how much the phone/cable/dish contract will really cost per month, how many “extra” charges there will be, what channels you’ll actually get, what real download speeds to expect, what responsibility the provider has for outages, what its “choking” policy is, how bad the service has to be before you can get out it without penalty — just for starters.

These industries have had lots of time to come up with good service on their own and have succeeded in producing the suckiest systems in the developed world. It’s long past time to limit their useless “freedom to innovate”, which mostly applies to better marketing scams, and give the consumer a break through regulation.

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