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ITU: regular LTE, WiMAX and “evolved 3G” can be labeled 4G

updated 04:30 am EST, Sun December 19, 2010

T-Mobile 4G claims gain some credence

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has issued a press release that has expanded the use of the term 4G. Technologies that can now carry the 4G label include regular LTE, WiMAX and even what it broadly refers to as "evolved 3G technologies". Previously it had maintained that the only technologies that would fit any definition of 4G would have to comply with either LTE Advanced or WiMAX 2.

T-Mobile had previously sparked controversy by applying the 4G label to its HSPA+ network, based largely on the ability of its network to outperform Sprint's WiMAX service. It would now seem that T-Mobile can legitimately make its claim unless the ITU defines performance expectations for the what it now labels "evolved" 3G technologies.

The latest statement by the ITU appears to be a concession to the way the term has been used in the marketing of telecommunications technologies and renders the definition of 4G so broad that it will inevitably lead to confusion for consumers in the coming years. T-Mobile's network operates at 14.4 Mbps while the term was originally intended to only be applied to networks sporting speeds in excess of 100Mbps.

by MacNN Staff




  1. malax

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I don't understand any of this telecom mumbo jumbo but it seems like that last sentence is the key: they should have defined it in terms of technology PLUS some proven level of performance (e.g., 4G must be able to achieve 50Mbps under [some stated conditions]."

  1. rtamesis

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Bought and paid off

    In other words, the ITU has transformed 4G into a marketing gimmick instead of a label accurately reflecting the underlying technology.

  1. Flying Meat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Like calling a Chevette

    a Formula 1 race car?

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    who cares

    4G means 'fourth generation'. Anything after 3G is 4G.

    And I didn't realize the ITU had such control over the world communications companies they could tell any of them what they were allowed to call any of their services.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Bought and paid off

    In other words, the ITU has transformed 4G into a marketing gimmick instead of a label accurately reflecting the underlying technology.

    No, it was already a marketing gimmick, as pretty much everything is.

    What did you think the iPhone 3Gs name was, if not a marketing gimmick? Is there some definition as to what 3Gs is supposed to mean?

    And the ITU is a UN agency. Exactly where do they have the power to tell a carrier what their service can be called? Or are you one of those new-world-order neo-cons awaiting for the UN to take over the world. For if you are, we shall defeat you!

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