Ever since the 4G race got heated between T-Mobile and AT&T after realizing they were lagging behind Verizon’s LTE and the Now Network’s WiMAX networks, the meaning of 4G became increasingly defiled. Now, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo is proposing a bill that would require carriers to be straightforward with their network speeds and eliminate all this faux-G bull.
The Next Generation Wireless Disclosure Act, as it is called, will have carriers publish details on their minimum 4G speeds, their coverage, and their network reliability. Eshoo wants to create a standard framework of what 4G really means, at least at this moment in time, and ensure that consumers understand what they sign up for.
The International Telecomunications Union (ITU) had originally defined true 4G as being a theoretical peak of 100Mbps, which only some LTE networks can reach. And so far, only LTE-Advanced and WiMAX 2 are formally certified as 4G. And although no consumer 4G connections ever reach this number in the real world where other factors can cause a large variation in speeds, the term was abused by T-Mobile and AT&T to mean significantly slower speeds that are essentially enhanced 3G networks.
T-Mobile was first to start calling its enhanced 3G network, dubbed HSPA+, as 4G. Following suit, was AT&T, which released several so-called “4G” devices earlier this year that did not even meet HSPA+/HSUPA speeds. The devices included the Atrix 4G and the Inspire 4G. Customers complaint of capped speeds only to get a response from AT&T that the device did not support HSUPA uplink speeds. This was dubious since HSPA+ support usually means support for HSUPA. The carrier later admitted that it was simply not enabled. Sadly for consumers, the Infuse 4G was the first “HSPA+ enabled device on launch” from AT&T after months of defining 4G as HSPA+ and already selling so-called 4G devices.