Australian Regulator to Sue Apple Over Misleading 4G iPad Branding

As we’ve noted earlier, Apple’s new iPad doesn’t work on 4G LTE networks outside US and Canada and works on slower 3G networks in these countries.

Apple has run into trouble for still calling it “iPad Wi-Fi + 4G” in Australia.

The iPad landing page on the US and Canadian website calls the feature “Ultrafast 4G LTE” with the following subtext:

Designed with the next-generation wireless technology, the new iPad with Wi-Fi + 4G connects to ultrafast networks around the world – up to 4G LTE. So you can download content, stream video and browse the web at amazing speeds.

The iPad landing page on the Australian website calls the feature “Ultrafast Wireless” with the following subtext:

Designed with the next-generation wireless technology, the new iPad with Wi-Fi + 4G connects to ultrafast networks around the world. So you can download content, stream video and browse the web at amazing speeds.

Apple provides more details on the new iPad’s features page. For example on the US and Canadian website, Apple says:

The new iPad supports fast cellular networks the world over — including 4G LTE networks in the U.S. and Canada.2  So you can browse the web, stream content or download a movie at blazing-fast speeds. It also works on GSM/UMTS worldwide network technologies including HSPA, HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA — the fastest 3G networks out there. You’ll see downlink speeds up to 42 Mbps with DC-HSDPA and up to 21.1 Mbps with HSPA+.3

Apple says the following on the Australian website:

The new iPad supports fast cellular networks the world over — including 4G LTE networks in the U.S. and Canada.2 So you can browse the web, stream content, or download a movie at blazing-fast speeds. It also works on GSM/UMTS worldwide network technologies including HSPA, HSPA+, and DC-HSDPA — the fastest 3G networks out there. You’ll see downlink speeds up to 42 Mbps with DC-HSDPA and up to 21.1 Mbps with HSPA+.3

But when you go to Apple’s online store, an average buyer would think he is buying the 4G iPad when he selects from one of the iPad Wi-Fi + 4G models, despite the subtext that says:

The iPad with Wi-Fi + 4G model can roam worldwide on fast GSM/UMTS networks, including HSPA, HSPA+, and DC-HSDPA. When you travel internationally, you can use a micro-SIM card from a local carrier. You can also connect to the 4G LTE networks of AT&T in the U.S. and Bell, Rogers, and Telus in Canada.

Apple should have clearly said that the new iPad doesn’t work on 4G LTE networks in Australia to avoid any confusion.

The Australian government competition regulator is not happy with the way Apple is marketing the new iPad and plans to take action, according to a report on The Next Web.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) takes issue with the product “iPad with WiFi + 4G” because it “represents to Australian consumers that the product, with a SIM card, [can] connect to a 4G mobile data network in Australia, when this is not the case.”

As a result, the ACCC will seek “urgent interlocutory relief to ensure consumers are made aware of the correct technical capabilities of this device,” the commission said today.

The other problem has been that Australian operators Telstra and Optus have also been actively marketing the new iPad as the 4G iPad. They have scaled back on the 4G branding, but the damage seems to have been done.

The Next Web reports:

The competition regulator said it will seek injunctions, penalties, corrective advertising and refunds to consumers who were misled, and will file an application in Federal Court in Melbourne tomorrow morning.

Though we understand that there is a lot of confusion around the term “4G network” as it is quite subjective in different countries for example: carriers like AT&T call their HSPA+ network as 4G, Apple should have continued to call the new iPad models – iPad Wi-Fi + 3G rather than iPad Wi-Fi + 4G in these countries to avoid the confusion.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments.

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  • appel fan

    what do i think GO ANDROID

    • Trapp

      Yep! Looks like Steves death really impacted Apples policy. Just waiting for Oled droid

  • Computech

    Surely people aren’t that stupid. Nearly all data service’s use the wonderful term “up to” for connection speeds. Apple has used the same terminology for connecting services if your location is not supported with that service then well bad luck. Branding the product WiFi + 4G is just specifying its capabilities if you live somewhere that has that service. Either get a life or learn to understand what it is you are purchasing.

    • Hmmmm?

      This is coming from a company that prides itself in making its products simple to use and does not emphasize specifications. Why market it as 4G and release it in so many nations when it can only access 4G in the US and Canada? 4G is available in Australia and other parts of the World but the iPad does not support their spectrum.

  • mkimid

    I agree with ACCC, even that is true in US/CA, but it can make a misunderstand for the user. Actually, Apple makes too unreasonable decison for Radio IC. It is too limited to sell it worldwide market.
    It makes me miss Steave

  • Confused

    Iphonehacks – would a software iOS update allow it to be compatible with Australia 4G frequency? Sorry if this is a dumb question

    • Kiwiholden

      Yes it is a dump question. The chipset doesn’t support the frequencys currently used in Australia.

  • IPadSWE

    I got a so called 4G 64gb factory unlocked here in Sweden on Friday and at least the sore I purchased it at labeled it as The New iPad WiFi 3G+. After I did some testings I’ve been able to get upto 25 mbps down. I simply couldn’t resist not buying it. Factory unlocked 64 gb white with 3G+

  • Kiwiholden

    The new iPad will work on Aussie 4G just not till next year…
    Telstra’s 4G network is using all the frequencies currently available to them for 4G but they won’t have access to the 700MHz band till after the analog TV signals are turned off next year

  • AppleCider

    JBHifi in NZ has their own sign next to the display ipads saying that 4G won’t work here because we don’t have 4G coverage at all. I suppose we have to wait for another 10years to get 4G here :-( .

  • http://www.motorbeam.com/ fas

    iPad does not come cheap in Australia by any stretch of imagination.