Cell C CEO Alan Knott-Craig has sent a strong message to Vodacom that it should not think it will get away with calling its LTE network “4G”, considering how vehemently Vodacom opposed Cell C’s use of the term.
Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub recently said that the era of 4G has arrived. “We are [now] going into what we call 4G, and for 4G to work we need spectrum in the 800MHz, 1,800MHz or 2,600MHz bands, and that spectrum we do not have today,” said Joosub.
Joosub’s comment raised a few eyebrows because of Vodacom’s extensive battle against Cell C’s 4G marketing campaign to promote its 21Mbps HSPA+ network.
In 2011 Vodacom won an Advertising Standards Authority of SA (ASA) battle against Cell C’s use of the term 4G.
In its arguments Vodacom relied on the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU’s) definition that 4G only applies to LTE-Advanced and WirelessMAN-Advanced. The ITU also explicitly stated that it does not view LTE, WiMax and HSPA+ as 4G.
Shoe is now on the other foot
When asked about this apparent change from the company, Vodacom said that there is no change in what they see as 4G, adding that by strict definition LTE is actually 3.9G and LTE Advanced will be 4G.
“However, more and more operators and device manufacturers around the world are using the terms interchangeably. Modems and handsets are already being labeled as 4G,” explained Joosub.
“To avoid customer confusion and prevent South Africa getting out of step with the terminology used in the rest of the world, we may have to take the practical decision to adopt the term 4G.”
Curiously this is the exact same argument which Cell C used during the ASA hearings in 2011, but at the time Vodacom attacked this view arguing that the fact that international operators are using the term 4G is no excuse for trying to hoodwink consumers into thinking they are getting something they are not.
Warning to Vodacom
Knott-Craig told MyBroadband that Vodacom has made its 4G bed, and now they have to sleep in it.
The Cell C CEO said the ITU’s definition states that LTE is not 4G, and if Vodacom is calling their LTE service 4G they can expect action from Cell C.
“We will not stand for Vodacom having it both ways,” said Knott-Craig.