Rogers: Is “Beyond 4G” Beyond Bogus?

by Jordan Richardson on August 15, 2011

Rogers Communications is using “Beyond 4G” as its newest advertising slogan, but the Ottawa-based Public Interest Advocacy Group says that the claim is misleading.

“It’s a truth in advertising problem,” John Lawford, a lawyer with consumer advocacy group, said.

Lawford (along with Mike Fujimoto), in a blog post on Open Media, said that Rogers’ network is “incapable” of reaching speeds over the upper limits of what is now considered 4G. This draws on the debate over what exactly 4G is, of course, as the semantics and terminology have become quite muddied over the last while. Here at The Telecom Blog, we’ve long known that what passes as 4G is not all it’s sliced up to be because phones aren’t really made to hit those speeds yet. We also have known that “not all 4G is created equal.”

Rogers, for its part, launched its LTE network in July (in Ottawa) and plans to roll it out to other Canadian locations in the fall. The network’s typical speed is 12 to 25 megabits per second. That’s faster than Telus’ network, which is listed at seven to 14 megabits per second. Telus uses HSPA on its 4G networks, however, so therein lies the rub.

Even with Rogers’ “better-than-Telus” digits, though, they come up on the low end of what 4G ought to be. Analysts are already calling Rogers’ 4G network “3.9G” because the “theoretical download range” for 4G is up to 150 megabits per second. As you can tell, there’s a lot of playing room.

This is all largely the “fault” of the ITU after they tinkered with the definition of 4G back in December of 2010.

Since then, Rogers and other international telecommunications giants tagged their networks with the 4G label because, hey, why not?

In this case, Rogers says that their “Beyond 4G” is experience is darn sure beyond the 4G experience of HSPA networks. Their angle is to differentiate from the existing networks because they are the “first and only with LTE.”

So “Beyond 4G” doesn’t really mean anything with respect to going above and beyond actual 4G standards after all, which gives Rogers an awful lot of leeway. It is a case of marketing more than anything else, I’d venture, and that’s hardly new. Much like saying something is “beyond a phone” when it’s really still truly just a phone, “Beyond 4G” is a “figure of speech” used to confuse consumers into signing up with Rogers’ slightly superior networks. All’s fair in love and 4G – or so they say.

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Mary Pretotto August 16, 2011 at 10:09 am

Hi Jordan. This is Mary with Rogers….just wanted to drop in and provide some additional information.

For several weeks, our largest competitors had been using the term 4G to refer to HSPA+ technology that Rogers first introduced back in 2009. Our customers were telling us they were confused because different carriers are using different names to refer to the same technologies. As a result we made the decision to refer to our HSPA+ network as 4G to minimize any confusion among Canadians. This aligns with the ITU’s latest definition of 4G.

But we know that what really matters is the LTE experience that comes next – what we’re calling “Beyond 4G.” The world is moving towards LTE, the gold standard of wireless network technology, capable of maximum theoretical download speeds of up to 75 Mbps. LTE provides more usage capacity, meaning more users can access the network at top speeds without affecting overall network performance and delivering lower latency than 4G HSPA+.


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