Dear ITU, Thanks For The Call-It-Whatever-You-Want ‘4G’ Definition!

by Gaurav Kheterpal on December 21, 2010

It’s fair to say that “4G” has been one of the most beloved abbreviations of the telecom world in year 2010, more so in United States and Canada. There’s been no shortage of 4G compliance claims from wireless carriers, so-called “faster than 4G networks” and attempts at selling lesser qualified technologies such as LTE and HSPA+ as fourth generation cellular networks.

Arch rivals Verizon and AT&T have engaged in verbal volleys over the former’s claim of LTE being a 4G technology. T-Mobile has staked claim for being “America’s Largest 4G Network“ and several other wireless carriers on either side of the border have freely tailored the 4G definition as per their business interests.

In the past, ITU has publicly blasted the carrier fraternity for making tall claims about 4G compliance and pretending its 4G when it’s not. However, in a rather dramatic U-turn to its earlier stand, the regulatory body loosened its definition of 4G to include LTE, WiMax, and HSPA+.

“Perseverance pays” – corporate lobbying has finally persuaded ITU to redefine 4G (yet again). Dear ITU, thanks for the call-it-whatever-you-want 4G definition! We’re blessed.

Understandably, the carrier fraternity is ecstatic with the latest ITU announcement. T-Mobile is treating it as a moment of triumph as the ITU has finally recognized that HSPA+ will be considered a 4G network amongst its LTE and WiMAX peers. The carrier can now do away with the drama of having a “T-Mobile’s 4G definition” for its pushy advertising campaigns. Verizon is already leaving no stone unturned to promote the rollout of its 4G LTE network. The ITU announcement may well prove to be a blessing in disguise for the struggling WiMAXed ClearWire as it’s finally joined the fourth generation gang. After all, it was the first dirty fish in the pond to completely ignore the ITU’s definition and market its WiMAX network as 4G.

There’s always been confusion about the true definition of 4G and I’m afraid that the latest ITU announcement is likely to further blur the picture. TMCNet rightly puts it as being a case of “When is 4G Not 4G? When 3G and Pre-4G are 4G”. 4G Americas says it abides by the ITU’s technical definition of 4G, but is “flexible” to tailor the definition for the sake of consumers.

Dear ITU, you certainly owe a detailed explanation for this unprecedented move. And perhaps, it’s now a good time to finally define 4G in simple words. I, for one, believe that the ITU redefinition of 4G is an indication that the “Need for Speed” game amongst the wireless fraternity has taken an ugly turn. Standards are being redefined without any justifications to “accommodate” the mighty and the powerful and it’s not an ominous sign for the future of the telecom industry.

I’m deeply concerned, what about you? Please share your opinion by leaving a comment below this post.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. >. Follow > by: RSS>, Twitter >, >, or Friendfeed >

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