Apple runs the gauntlet of UK ad watchdog’s ire over 4G in iPad

1 May 2012

The new iPad

Technology giant Apple and the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) appear to be caught up in a showdown over the use of the term 4G in the new iPad. The ASA says it will close the case against Apple if it removes references to 4G from its UK e-commerce site.

Spurred on by a case in Australia, where Apple had to refund Australian buyers of the new iPad over its 4G claims, complainants in the UK brought their grievances to the ASA.

The reality is that 4G services Apple boasts of are only available in the US and Canada.

LTE (Long Term Evolution) 4G networks are still only evolving elsewhere. Tablet owners on these networks will be able to enjoy speeds beyond 50Mbps.

The move from aging CMDA networks allowed the US to skip straight to 4G while the sturdy but expensive 3G GSM systems in Europe have held things up as operators try to squeeze the last bit of value out of their investments.

Indeed in the UK and Ireland, auctions have yet to take place for 4G spectrum.

Our 4G may not be the same as your 4G

But it gets even worse. According to the BBC, which has seen correspondence to the ASA on the matter, when 4G goes live in the UK it may still not be compatible with Apple’s new iPad. This is because the frequencies deployed for 4G in the US and Canada are different to those that will be deployed in Europe.

Apple is understood to have assured one complainant that no further reference to the 4G capabilities of the new iPad will be made on Apple’s UK website.

That still hasn’t happened, although the ASA said it will close the case when Apple removes reference to 4G.

Could it be Apple is stubbornly holding onto its belief that 4G in its iPad will work once regulators allow 4G auctions to take place?

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years