Cell C’s 4G apology and Gauteng launch date

The battle over Cell C’s ‘4G’ and ‘4Gs’ claims reached fever pitch after Vodacom and MTN lodged successful complaints at the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASA) recently.

The ASA ruled that Cell C must withdraw their 4G and 4Gs claims after the complaints from its competitors who labeled the Cell C 4G/4Gs campaign “dishonest and misleading.”

“These [4G] claims, together with the unqualified and ambiguous “4GS” must be withdrawn with immediate effect on receipt of the ruling,” said Corné Koch, Communications Manager of the ASA.

Cell C however hit back in a strongly worded press release, vowing to fight back to protect its right to use the term 4Gs to describe its HSPA+ network. 

“We will appeal the ruling because we believe that this amounts to corporate bullying,” commented Cell C’s CEO Lars Reichelt. “It is Cell C’s view that MTN and Vodacom lodged these complaints in an attempt to distract Cell C which has recently established a major competitive advantage in the marketplace.”

In a bold move Cell C CEO Lars Reichelt apologized for the confusion which his use of the terms 4G and 4Gs may have caused in full page advertisements in the major Sunday papers, including the Sunday Times and the City Press.

“I have been quoted in several media earlier in the year as saying that Cell C is rolling out a “4G” network.  I have used the term “4G” as a marketing term, bearing in mind that mobile operators in the US (e.g. Clearwire, T-Mobile) and Europe (e.g. Telenor, TeliaSonera) are running networks with actual speeds of between 3 – 10 Mbps and have called their offerings “4G”,” said Reichelt in the paid advertisements.

4G is defined by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) as an all-IP based technology which supports peak data rates of 100Mbps for high mobility applications and 1Gbps for low mobility applications such as nomadic/local wireless access.

No technology standard which is 4G compliant (mainly LTE Advanced and 802.16m Mobile WiMax) has been ratified yet, a fact which Reichelt previously explained at a press briefing.

“The intent was to convey the fact that South Africa with Cell C’s new network will be on par with world class standards.  Technically Cell C is rolling out an all-IP, HSPA+ 900/2100 network with theoretical maximum speeds of 21 Mbps and recoded speeds of 5 – 8 Mpbs.  I apologize for the confusion I may have caused,” Reichelt stated in the advertisement.

Reichelt further apologized for not rolling out their new HSPA+ network across the country in one go, explaining that their city by city rollout is needed to iron out problems which occur in a network rollout of this magnitude.

Reichelt further revealed that they are on track for a mid-November Gauteng launch and is further set to have 34% population coverage with their HSPA+ network by the end of the year.

Reichelt continued to explain their ‘4 Great Speed’, ‘4 Great Service’ and ‘4 Great Savings’ claims, quoting recent pricing and speed comparisons by MyBroadband to illustrate their significance in the market.

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Cell C’s 4G apology and Gauteng launch date