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Senators draft bill to define real 4G speeds

updated 10:10 pm EDT, Fri October 14, 2011

New Senate bill should bring better 4G definition

The Senate has introduced a companion bill to the Next Generation Wireless Disclosure Act that could reduce indiscriminate labeling of newer mobile broadband network technologies as 4G. Currently, 4G is attached to HSPA+, WiMAX and LTE networks, even though all have key differences and offer different speeds. If the bill passes, it will require all providers to clearly specify what their networks will offer, including minimum and maximum data speeds.

The bill was filed by Senator Amy Kobuchar and Al Franken from Minnesota, together with Senator Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut. Democrat representative Anna Eshoo on the US House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology commended the Senators for bringing this forward, stating it should require a simple task: truth in advertising.

If providers can't deliver on promises of speed, reliability and prices, they should be held accountable, Senator Franken added.

The bill would require all providers to detail the guaranteed minimum data speeds, network reliability, coverage area maps, pricing, the type of technology used to provide it, and the network conditions that can impact the speed of applications and services used on the network.

It would also require the FCC to evaluate the speed and price of 4G wireless data service provided by the top ten US wireless carriers. This way, consumers could get an unbiased reference and comparison of the services they are considering in their area. [via BGR]

by MacNN Staff



  1. MyRightEye

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Thank you Nanny State

    Whatever would we do without you?

  1. facebook_Justin

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Oct 2011


    comment title

    It's about time they did this. Let's just hope they define 4G as what it really is not what the carriers say it is.

  1. Jittery Jimmy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    What it is to me

    To me, it's all about minimum bandwidth. Right now, none of the carriers promise anything about minimum or even average bandwidth. This is a no brainer, as it is all about legal contracts between consumer and provider being made fair and transparent... something the carriers cannot do on their own since there is always a player that wants to game the system at the expense of all other consumers and carriers.

    This is exactly what good laws are about.

  1. Inkling

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Oh great...

    Oh great, our annual deficits are running into the trillions, billions in tax-payer money is getting poured into politically well-connected companies that go bankrupt, unemployment in young adults has been in the double digits for several years, and our credit rating as a nation has been downgraded for the first time in history. Yet what are Senators Amy Klobuchar, Al Franken, and Richard Blumenthal (liberal Democrats) doing? They are piddling about with the definition of 4G much like Nero fiddled while Rome burned.

    What they're doing is not only petty, it doesn't matter. Anyone with technical skills knows cell phone data speed advertising is inaccurate. They're not getting deceived. Anyone without technical skills doesn't know enough about what 4G ought to mean to get deceived.

    The FCC bureaucracy could easily handle this issue without wasting legislative time that should be spent on serious issues rather than this petty political posturing.

  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The carriers want confusion

    The carriers don't want the public to know that the real 4G requirements combine voice and data into a single internet packet stream. Oops. There go the separate voice and data plans. I'm sure all carriers have spreadsheets telling them that charging for voice minutes and data gigabytes is more profitable than combining them together.

    And let's not forget that there is no final 4G specification yet. There are two competing candidates: LTE Advanced and WirelessMAN-Advanced. The winner hasn't been chosen yet. So, although certain technologies used by carriers can be called "4G technologies," no carrier currently supports "4G."

    Calling HSPA+ a "4G technology" is like calling the wheel an "automotive technology." Technically correct but misleading.

  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Here are the two 4G candidates

    LTE advanced:

    IEEE 802.16 aka WirelessMAN:

  1. aristotles

    Joined: Dec 1969


    While they are at it, can the reclassify...

    CDMA 3G should really be classified as 2.5 G when you consider how slow it is.

    @SockRolid, sorry but anything in the 802.x family should never be called 4G. They are not meant to be what we would call "cellular" data standards and have no native voice channel component to them.

    HSPA/UMTS, LTE and LTE Advanced all share a common ancestry on the voice side from GSM. They also share some common core network functionality with Edge (GSM) on the switch and backhaul side of things.

    Wi-Max should never ever been pushed by Sprint or any other company as handset technology.

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