Summary: 8ta feel that LTE networks and services should be called 4G, but Cell C says it is not up to them to say what 4G is. MTN says that the matter is yet to be finalized by the ITU (which will guide their marketing terminology).
The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASA) Final Appeals Committee recently ruled that Cell C may not use the term 4Gs for its HSPA+ network.
The term 4G featured prominently in the 4G/4Gs battle, and the case was ultimately decided based on the ITU’s 4G definition which states that only LTE-Advanced (not LTE) and WirelessMAN-Advanced qualify as 4G technologies.
Despite the ITU’s 4G definition, the term is widely used internationally to describe and market LTE and WiMax networks.
With the overwhelming global usage of 4G to describe LTE networks, it raises the question whether the same must happen in South Africa.
MTN, Cell C and 8ta respond
Cell C said that it is not for them to determine when operators may use the term 4G to describe their networks.
“During the recent ASA process, MTN and Vodacom argued that only two future technologies – namely LTE-Advanced (i.e. not standard LTE) and WirelessMAN-Advanced – would constitute IMT-Advanced/4G technology as recognised by the ITU,” said Cell C.
“It appears that only when these technologies are deployed in South Africa will the ASA permit operators to use the term 4G to describe their networks.”
MTN South Africa Chief Technology Officer Kanagaratnam Lambotharan thinks that it is premature to make a decision on LTE and 4G.
“MTN does not refer to its LTE network as 4G as the ITU will only be mandating the requirements for 4G early next year. Until such time that MTN has a clear view of the 4G definition, the LTE network will be branded as LTE and not 4G,” says Lambotharan.
Vodacom, which was very vocal on the fact that Cell C should not use the term 4G in relation to their HSPA+ network, did not provide feedback on this issue by the time of publication (please see update below).
Update (Vodacom comment)
Vodacom CEO Pieter Uys said that his company supports the ITU as the official arbiter of what constitutes a 4G service, which has been formally defined as IMT-Advanced and only includes LTE-Advanced and WirelessMAN-Advanced (the next generation of WiMax). “No other technologies can therefore be deemed ‘true 4G’,” said
“Having said that, there is a clear trend amongst device manufacturers to label devices capable of speeds exceeding 100 Mbps as 4G devices,” said Uys.
“Although LTE (3.9G) running at 150 Mbps is not an order of magnitude better than the advanced 3G offerings deployed by Vodacom today (a requirement of the ITU to step up a ‘generation’), it is still a major step forward so it may well be that 4G is adopted by manufacturers and subsequently consumers irrespective of the ITU’s views.”