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Congressional bill would require clear info on 4G speeds

updated 03:50 pm EDT, Wed June 22, 2011

Next Gen Wireless Disclosure Act talks 4G in House

Democratic Congresswoman Anna Eshoo has proposed a bill that would require carriers be forthright about increasingly confusing 4G terminology. The Next Generation Wireless Disclosure Act would require that carriers publish details about their minimum 4G speeds, their coverage, and the reliability of the network. Eshoo hoped to set a framework for "what 4G speed really is" and make sure customers knew what they were getting.

Advocacy group Public Knowledge was informally endorsing the bill as it would improve "transparency" and was important to knowing what to expect in a country that focuses heavily on contracts.

The CTIA, a group representing the carriers themselves, naturally objected to the bill. It would add a "new layer of regulation to a new and exciting set of services," the organization said, claiming that the bill was ignoring the tendency for performance to change. The CTIA always objects to regulations that don't immediately serve corporate interests and has resisted net neutrality among other rules.

Critics have argued that the bill wouldn't have been necessary if it weren't for a rush to market services as 4G on questionable grounds. Sprint was the first to make the claim in the US with its WiMAX service, though its format is one of the closest matches to the International Telecommunications Union's (ITU) original guidelines. Most of the blame has been pinned on T-Mobile, which began marketing its HSPA+ 3G service as 4G. Verizon has the fastest actual service of the major US carriers and gets closest to 4G in terms of speed, but AT&T adopted the 4G badge solely to avoid a perception it was lagging behind everyone else despite having the fastest service outside of Verizon.

Officially, 'true' 4G on ITU standards requires at least 100Mbps, which only some LTE networks can reach. LTE-Advanced and WiMAX 2 are the only two standards that are formally certified as 4G by the ITU, though it relaxed its rules to allow the current confused state of 4G in North America. [via CNET]

by MacNN Staff



  1. mytdave

    Joined: Dec 1969


    "There's a law for that"

    Clearly there are problems with carriers' representation of their networks as any semi-knowledgeable tech person already knows. Ah, but here comes the gubberment to 'save the stupid masses' from their ignorance, nay, laziness, from doing any basic research whatsoever on products/services.

  1. brainiac

    Joined: Dec 1969


    By that logic...

    Then it should be legal to scam the elderly because they should have known better due to life experience. And loan sharks should be legalized because they are providing a service. A totally free market is great if everyone does the "right thing" and everyone looks out for each other in a fair and balanced way. Unfortunately, not everyone or every corporation is interested primarily in the public good. That is why rational laws and regulations are necessary. It is human nature to look for opportunities for personal gain so there needs to be checks and balances. Think of the much less restricted "free market" in places like Afghanistan or back in the wild west where laws are few and regulation not present. I prefer a society of laws and regulation within reason.

  1. viktorob

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Great to hear that..

    3G (3.5) has a theoretical speed of 14.5 Mbps download and 7.5 download. What company actually gives you that speed in the world? none.

    How are they offering 4G when they haven't even give you last year's promised speeds?

  1. gmsquires

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Truth in advertising

    Rep Eschoo is my representative and she has always been for the consumer promoting and getting passed several important pieces of consumer legislation over the years as a state rep and now in Congress. Allowing unfettered false information to be spewed by any company doesn't serve anyone in a complex consumer market place. The laissez faire attitude of "Let the Buyer Beware" is long gone, since about the time of Teddy Roosevelt.

  1. mytdave

    Joined: Dec 1969


    No new laws needed

    It's not the way you make it sound. These companies are being less than transparent, sure, but they're not laundering money in secret or running an off-shore scam. The networks they are running are public info, and it's doesn't take but a Google search to find out what speeds they are capable of.

    There are already "false advertising" laws on the books that can be applied, it is not necessary to come up with a new law for every little new development. It's unsustainable, and it eventually comes back to bite everyone in the a**. Time for people to use the brains that sit in their craniums.

  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Laisse Faire has no place in this discussion

    Kudos for the libertarian reference, but T-mobiles right to market its product needs to be protected by the government - not restricted.

    You are carefully trying to frame the argument as one of a 'right to deception' vs. 'protecting the consumer' but hold on - 4g is a marketing term.

    As a technical specification - read the article again - the ITU does allow these networks to be classified as 4g.

    Saying they 'relaxed the rules to create confusion' is the authors opinion, but even the author of this article is admitting these are, in fact, 4g networks per the standards body.

    The government wants to step in a decide what words mean - that battle wasn't lost in the time of Teddy Roosevelt. If the freedom to use words is lost - it'll be lost by our generation.

    Advertisers don't have the right to lie - they do have the right make their products appealing.

    Tmobile absolutely did not step over the line - they aren't lying whatsoever. They aren't causing damage - and they aren't stealing the savings of old people - all the hysterical arguments in this thread to the contrary.

  1. facebook_Justin

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Jun 2011


    comment title

    It's about time, and they should force the carriers (all of them) to only be allowed to use "4G" when they actually meet the requirements for 4G. Not one of the carriers that advertise 4G meet the requirements for 4G. NOT ONE.

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