Dating back to 2010, wireless carriers have been pushing their so-called 4G technology when the carriers didn’t come close to offering actual 4G speeds.
In 2010, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) declared that nobody in the United States was actually deploying technology with 4G speeds. According to the ITU, only technology similar to LTE-Advanced, which was capable of speeds over 100 Mbps, could be considered 4G technology.
That didn’t stop T-Mobile or AT&T from telling the public about their so-called 4G networks. T-Mobile claimed that their 3G HSPA+ service was the “largest 4G network.” while Sprint and AT&T would pretend that their Mobile WiMax and LTE networks (from several years ago) were also “4G.”
In fact, AT&T got angry when T-Mobile started to promote their
3G 4G network.
“I think that companies need to be careful that they’re not misleading customers by labeling HSPA+ as a 4G technology,” says AT&T. – DSLReports
Speaking of AT&T, do people remember when the iPhone 4S magically became a 4G device when iOS 5.1 was released? All it took was a small line of code (as Karl Bode put it). In reality, AT&T simply wanted to make their HSPA network be called a 4G network and AT&T admitted to as much.
“AT&T has rolled out a nationwide HSPA+ network, and they refer to this high-speed network as 4G,” a spokesperson told us. “With iOS 5.1, iPhone 4S will now see this reflected in the status bar.” Compare that to the company’s own marketing materials for the new iPad, which refer to HSPA+ as being among “the fastest 3G networks.” Why the difference? The 4G LTE iPad itself offers the answer: there’s no need to maintain the fiction of HSPA+ 4G when there’s a real 4G network to sell instead. Still, AT&T’s Seth Bloom is adamant that the iPhone 4S’s new labeling is “essentially the same as many other current AT&T smartphones.” – TheVerge
One reason for AT&T’s change in stance was due to the ITU changing what was considered real 4G technology. The ITU released new rules which deemed just about any network as 4G if that network had a “substantial level of improvement in performance and capabilities” over existing 3G technology. This allowed wireless carriers to then proclaim that their networks were deemed 4G yet the speeds they offered were still barely above 3G speeds.
As CCInsight put it:
Anticipation for the roll-out of 4G services in some markets was diluted as a result of inaccurate network labelling. Some operators promised blazing fast “4G speeds” on their HSPA+ networks to prevent subscriber churn — marketing 3G technologies like HSPA as a 4G service was a fairly widespread practice in many countries. – CCInsight
Now, a wireless operator has begun marketing 4G as 5G. As we have discussed in the past month, we are not even sure what 5G technology actually means as a there are varying definitions for the technology.
Yet, we still have our first mobile operator claiming that 5G technology is being offered by them to customers.
Smart Communications, the largest mobile operator in the Philippines, announced last week that it’s gone live with 5G services in the country. The company’s press release explains that it’s now offering LTE-A services with speeds up to 1 gigabit per second, or “more than twice as fast as 4G services”. – CCInsight
Smart believes that their LTE-A network is deemed 5G by “leading global operators” yet you won’t find any significant organizational agreement on that definition. But that won’t stop the 5G hype from continuing to grow. Some researchers want the US to open up wave bands to start encouraging research if we are to “keep pace.”
Nevermind that the country at the forefront of trying to substantially upgrade 4G technology is South Korea and they don’t expect to see these upgraded “ultra-fast networks” to be deployed until 2018-2020.