November 04, 2010, 8:23 PM — This is weird. It turns out that all the U.S. wireless carriers claiming to have 4G networks actually don't, according to the global standards group that determines how many Gs a network gets based on peak download speed benchmarks. How inconvenient is that?
Last month, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a United Nations agency which creates global standards for communications technology, assessed existing networks and determined that neither WiMax, operated by Sprint Nextel and partner Clearwire, nor Long Term Evolution (LTE), soon to be launched by Verizon, could be called 4G networks.
Only the LTE-Advanced and WiMax 2, which are only in the demo stage, would be considered a true 4G network. In essence, all American carriers are lying if they say they are 4G.
The reason any of this is coming up is because T-Mobile USA has been taking flak from competitors for claiming in its most recent commercials to have the nation's largest 4G network when, you know, technically -- that is, literally -- it's not true. Now that this error has been pointed out, I'm sure T-Mobile USA is quite remorseful.
In fact, one thing I've learned over the years is that advertisers always strive to be totally honest with customers, and you can bet the wireless carriers are hard at work rewriting their advertising and marketing literature to reflect their not-quite-4G network status, so as not to mislead their customers. Because theirs is a relationship built on trust, as Verizon Wireless will tell you.
To help out, I've come up with a few slogan ideas for the wireless carriers to get around the sordid truth of that whole 4G thing. If any of you wireless marketing people want to talk, I'm sure we could work out an arrangement.
* Not 4G, but an incredible simulation!
* 4G, if you round up
* Our network + a little patience = 4G
* It's HSPA+tastic!
* What's the big hang-up about Gs?
* It's not how many Gs you have, it's how you use them
* The ITU can bite us
* Maybe you're not 4G, ever think of that?
Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.