The iPad 4G/LTE Confusion

Apple launched the new iPad with "4G" capabilities. What they mean by that is support for the LTE technology for mobile data transmission. But boy is this a mess:

  1. LTE is not true 4G
  2. In the US, carriers market both LTE and HSPA+ as 4G
  3. The AT&T coverage map is misleading and is likely to confuse buyers who are looking for 4G
  4. With iOS 5.1 (available since the iPad event), Apple decided to follow AT&T's marketing and shows "4G" on AT&T phones where previously it showed "3G". Note that it's still HSPA+, not LTE.
  5. You need different iPads for the Verizon and the AT&T flavors of LTE.
  6. The iPad doesn't work with LTE at all in Europe, because the built-in chip doesn't support the frequencies used in Europe. In fact, LTE frequencies are all over the place globally.

Long-term evolution indeed.

Wireless Broadband is Pragmatic

I find it interesting how pragmatic companies and customers in the business-to-business market are when it comes to standards in infrastructure.

Unlike standards wars like VHS vs. Betamax or HD-DVD vs. BluRay in consumer markets, the fighting surrounding standards in wireless technology seems timid to non-existant. CDMA has prospered in the US and a few other countries alongside GSM, and the trend seems to continue in wireless broadband.

Most of the carriers are likely to go with LTE ("long term evolution") as their 4G wireless broadband standard, but WiMAX has already found a few adopters as well and is used by carriers already. From what I hear in the cellular network industry, suppliers try to cater to whatever standards carriers are interested in and don't participate in taking sides.

And recently even technology giant Intel, longtime supporter of WiMAX, has assumed a pragmatic stance towards LTE.

As a consumer, I hope that future cell technology integrates both standards to ensure interoperability — being limited to certain networks when traveling abroad seems anachronistic in times of globalization.