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Consumer watchdogs slam iPad ads as misleading consumers regarding 4G

Australian consumer watchdogs have been having a field day with Apple’s claims regarding the iPad’s compatibility with 4G. Apple is claiming that its latest tablet update “supports” the wireless data standard even though it is not compatible with all networks using the next-generation standard. Things got so bad that the consumer-electronics giant was forced to offer complete refunds to customers because the iPad doesn’t work on Australia’s 4G network. There are no clear numbers regarding the amount of consumers who took up Apple’s offer. Now, the UK’s Advertising Standard Authority (ASA) is investigating Apple’s ad campaign practices after it has logged 40 complaints regarding Apple’s 4G claims on its UK website.

Complainants were wondering whether the ads in the UK were misleading because they understood that 4G is still not available in the UK. Other complainants took Apple to task for describing the iPad as 4G because they did not believe that the unit will be compatible with 4G networks in the UK should these be introduced in the future. American 4G runs on a different radio spectrum than Australia’s networks. Moreover, the US spectrum specification will also be different from the spectrum that will be introduced in the UK.

While the iPad’s connection to 4G is controversial, it does work smoothly with current generation wireless data networks. The ASA brought the complaints to Apple. The device company promptly removed all references to 4G from its website. It also said that it would edit a promotional video that mentioned the wireless technology standard. The ASA has closed the case informally because it said the issues raised with it have been resolved. Still, the watchdog group said that after informally closing the case before, it has since been contacted by several individuals regarding current 4G claims on Apple’s site. This particular brouhaha centers on Apple’s support of 4G LTE. While it lists the standard in its specification sheet, it mentions in a footnote that “4G LTE is supported only on AT&T and Verizon networks in the US, and on Bell, Rogers and Telus networks in Canada. See your carrier for details.”
Apple’s Apple store website also describes the iPad as offering “Wi-Fi + 4G.” The same footnote appears. A video on the UK Apple site also describes the tablet as having the “speed of 4G LTE”.

The company has yet to respond to the ASA’s request for comment. However, a source has said to the BBC that Apple has not been ordered to remove these references to 4G from its website.

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