Editorial: It's time to stop the 4G smoke in our eyes

You would think maybe AT&T might have learned something through osmosis, through the months and months and millions and millions of dollars of highly successful advertisements Apple has run promoting the iPhone. They've pulled at our heartstrings. They've played off our emotions. And they've been very, very good at it.

But that's Apple.

AT&T, meanwhile, has found itself on the wrong end of the 4G argument, and it's doing its damnedest to lose it.

We're not going to wade too deep into the whole "what is 4G?" thing. Because at this point, it can be whatever a carrier says it is. Sprint calls Wimax "4G." Verizon calls LTE "4G." T-Mobile calls HSPA+ "4G."

And AT&T defines its 4G as "HSPA+ with advanced backhaul*." Seriously, it says that right on the box of the new Samsung Infuse 4G, which will be released on May 15. And backhaul's even got top billing, listed above the massive "4.5-inch Super AMOLED Plus display" and the "Android 2.2 platform" and the "8MP rear and 1.3MP front facing cameras."

But you saw that asterisk, right? Turn the Infuse's retail box 90 degrees and you'll find the small print. And it reads thusly:

* 4G speeds delivered by HSPA+ with enhanced backhaul. Available in limited areas. Availability increasing with ongoing backhaul delopyment. Learn more at att.com/network. 4G used in connection with the Samsung Infuse product name refers to the fact that the infuse is capable of operating on AT&T's HSPA+ network with enhanced backhaul described herein.

I'm less concerned with AT&T marketing a phone on its potential to do something. That's not to say I'm overly thrilled about it -- it's specious at best. But AT&T (and to a lesser extent, T-Mobile) are in a 3G/4G transition period, and I can remember buying 3G-capable phones long before I ever actually had 3G service where I live. For the sake of argument here, we'll pretend that AT&T's definition of "4G" is legit.

But the idea that you can actually market a phone as "4G HSPA+ with enhanced backhaul" is ridiculous. Having to qualify the 4G spec like that is bad enough. But a paragraph of small print that makes it OK for AT&T to pimp "4G HSPA+ with enhanced backhaul" on the box in the first place is just asinine.

The mobile space is innovating so quickly and growing so fast, the carriers and manufacturers should be going out of their way to make things more simple. The word "backhaul" should never be placed in front of a paying customer. "HSPA+" should never have to be seen by someone who doesn't either write about or sell smartphones for a living. (Or by those who obsessively check Android Central while they should be working. You know who you are. We love you.)

Normal customers -- I lovingly call non-smartphone nerds "civilians" -- don't care whether a phone has an AMOLED screen or a Super AMOLED screen or a Super AMOLED Plus screen or a TFT LCD screen or an SLCD screen or a nova display or a retina display. They care about apps. They care about browsing. And taking pictures. And e-mail. And Facebook. And Angry Birds. Not display type, and certainly not backhaul.

It's gotten to be a bit like that scene in "The Right Stuff" where the early test pilots would one-up each other over and over again, breaking each other's speed records by a few miles per hour, because that's what they did. And now Android's manufacturers and carriers have found themselves in a similar smartphone spec space race, aiming to go just a little higher and a litter faster than the last guy, all while forgetting that there are passengers in the back who just want to go from Point A to Point B in relative style and comfort, and with a fair amount of speed.

Specs are good. Increments are important. But they also should be invisible, and the platform sold as a whole product. Because while some are cheering the difference between AMOLED, Super AMOLED, Super AMOLED Plus, HSPA, HSPA+, climbing slightly higher with each iteration, Apple's been circling the globe, millions of passengers in tow, its eyes locked firmly on the horizon (if not beyond).

Customers are being bombarded with specs that they should never have to worry about -- ever. In the case of the Infuse 4G, which in our initial use is a pretty darn good phone, it's a smokescreen to cover the larger issue --  that nobody knows what the hell "4G" really means. And as long as there's no real standard, carriers at the back of the race, like AT&T, are content -- and allowed -- to blow smoke in our eyes while they continue to promise that there one day will be a hot enough fire to back it up.

Phil Nickinson
  • AT&T claim to have the fastest 4G of all the phone carriers. They mention it every commercial they air. I live in Manhattan and I'm proud to say that i have never dropped a call on Verizon's network. Some of my friends and family have T-Mobile and AT&T... They usually use their phone for data/Wi-Fi/email and have a second phone (usually Verizon) for phone calls because the other carriers are so unreliable. The one positive thing i will say about T-Mobile's "4G" is it is significantly faster than 3G, not as fast as LTE, but it consumes less of the phone's battery than Verizon's LTE does and that is important. I'm sure many would trade a bit of speed for more battery life, considering how battery life is such a major issue in today's new phones.
  • Pretty sure every carrier does nowadays. It really depends on where you live and which carrier is the best where you live. For me its AT&T and I wouldn't even think about switching to a different carrier because of how fast the speeds are here.
  • I've heard a lot about AT&T's coverage and how it sucks. If that's the case then why do they continue to gain a record number of customers? Can't be the iPhone since Verizon now has the iPhone. I personally don't have AT&T but I was just wondering why it has such a bad reputation.
  • http://news.consumerreports.org/electronics/2010/12/consumer-reports-cel...
  • I usually don't like to reply to these links but that link has to stop. It's a terrible and worthless rating since it has a sample size of a pathetic 58,000 that is suppose to account for how many million cell phone subscribers in the united states? That's about as bad as if I walk around the neighborhood and "survey" people what they think about tablets. I'm sure the 100 or 200 people living in my neighborhood is as accurate a representation of the whole tablet market as a grain of sand in 10 ton fishtank.
  • Yes 58,000 is small proportion of mobile users in the US, but your examples about "walking around the neighborhood" and "a grain of sand in a fish tank" are ridiculous. The article asked people from 23 different metro areas in the US. So that would be like going to 23 different, highly populated parts of your fish tank. You're example is like asking around only one part of the tank. Even if you asked 58 million people around your neighborhood, it would still be worthless compared to asking people from 23 different cities. Your comparisons are not even close. If I want to get an idea of how good a carrier's service is nationally, 23 different metro areas sounds reasonable to me, even if it's a small percentage of each area. If you're tired of that link being posted then post a better one that says AT&T is not the worst rated company by all cell phone users nationally. Until then, I'll stick with my small but national survey, which supports what everybody already knows about AT&T anyways.
  • That's great that they polled from 23 different metro areas,but then you take it and compare it to the actual pool and it becomes insignificant.
    what you're looking at is surveying ~2,500 people in each area and assume they are an accurate representation of the whole area. In any given metro area, 2500 people are a mere drop in a bucket that is a heavily populated area. Are you willing to claim that the opinion of 2,500 people in say, Los Angeles, is the popular opinion of everyone living in LA county? Or maybe we can test that question out in Atlanta. Or maybe Chicago. In the end, the sample size is too miniscule to even be considered.
    And when we're talking small percentage here. A quick google of how many wireless subscribers are in the US and you come out with 302.9 Million subscribers (http://www.ctia.org/consumer_info/index.cfm/AID/10323). So when you take that into account, you're essentially saying that 1.91% of the whole is enough to be considered as the general consensus of the whole population of those who use cellphones. You're welcome to stick to a "national" survey that is terribly executed but anyone who has a drop of common sense will realize that that tiny number of people does not represent the whole subscriber. You're better off not believing the survey than believing in it because "omg, it's a survey so it must be an accurate representation". What you don't realize is that each carrier's customer service and service provided are dependent on the area. If you look around in various forums and talk to different people, some would attest to having AT&T is their best choice, while others say Verizon, and others T-mobile. It depends on where you are. If they come out with a survey of the best/worst in each area, then that would be something more interesting to look at. EDIT: added a link
  • Sure, the survey might be wrong due to the sample size, but it could also be equally correct too. The only thing I tried to say was that the survey seems to show that across the US, AT&T is the worst rated company of any carrier. Until you can find a better source, we'll have to agree to disagree, since neither of us can prove nor disprove the accuracy of the survey. But imo, if a large group of people (in the context of those surveyed at least) keep saying the same thing, I'll at least consider what they're saying, even if it's only a small group of them, until I can prove it for myself.
  • that is exactly the point. Due to the ridiculously tiny size of the sample, it is essentially completely unreliable and can not be used to determine what is true or not.
    I personally do not believe you have to stick to the survey just because it's the only one done out there. It doesn't make sense that because of its existence, one must believe it's true especially when the execution of the survey is as amateur and poorly planned as this one.
    It's ok to consider it, but using it as if it is the definitive answer is ridiculous based on the unreliability and poor execution of the survey.
    On the note of context, you can spin anything out of context. If I asked 100 people about their opinion on a certain subject (and lets say I'll even expand it to 100 people in each of the 50 states) and 35% agree on choice B and it happens to be the highest percentage, then based on that context those 35% must be right. Context should only be used when you have all the information readily available to you not based on one piece of information. A search will most likely land you with many more "surveys" out there that rate customer satisfaction and I'm certain that they will still wont pinpoint one and only one company as the worst.
  • You're taking my reply out of context again. I'm not sticking to the survey as a definitive answer, I'm just pointing it out to people who ask about AT&T's service. Just to say what it showed. Again, you're welcome to go find a better survey that proves this one wrong, but until then the debate is over and all you're doing now is just beating a dead horse.
  • so you're simply going to misinform then with a survey that was poorly executed. That's fine if it is how you prefer to give information. I guess giving them bad info is as good as giving them something in general.
    And again, by linking that survey repeatedly simply shows that you believe it is a fact, so yes you are actually sticking to the survey as a definitive answer in this case. If it isn't, then the link shouldn't even be posted to begin with. No sane person gives out information that they dont believe in just because it's there especially when it is used as THE general consensus of all subscribers.
    That's simply it.
  • Your ability to make false assumptions is astounding. We'll never come to a conclusion (but feel free to PM me when you find that better survey) so let's just agree to disagree. But thanks again for beating that dead horse.
  • lol, if anyone is beating a dead horse it would be you.
    and you're welcome to think I'm making false assumption but what you said from your earlier replies are simply what I said. giving away bad information is worse than giving no information. You can claim you also don't believe it's definitive yet you still give it out. You're either doing so for malicious purposes or you like spreading bad information. So go ahead, tell me I made another false assumption, but that's what you're doing. No one wants to beat the dead horse unless someone ressurrects the damn thing again and again, I'd rather call it a zombie horse by how it's being used lol.
    that being said, I'll agree that we'll never agree on this so that's that.
  • lol, if anyone is beating a dead horse it would be you.
    and you're welcome to think I'm making false assumption but what you said from your earlier replies are simply what I said. giving away bad information is worse than giving no information. You can claim you also don't believe it's definitive yet you still give it out. You're either doing so for malicious purposes or you like spreading bad information. So go ahead, tell me I made another false assumption, but that's what you're doing. No one wants to beat the dead horse unless someone ressurrects the damn thing again and again, I'd rather call it a zombie horse by how it's being used lol.
    that being said, I'll agree that we'll never agree on this so that's that.
  • Well in the SF area ATT sucks. Everyone I talk to, from Santa Rosa through the Peninsula, and over to the East Bay has the same story: bad connections and dropped calls. And those that went to VZ are happier. Given my experience it's easy for me to believe that other areas suck as well, as reported.
  • 58,000 is a really good sample. It's obvious you don't know much about national surveys but it is almost impossible to survey a million + people accurately. One of the biggest surveys in the US, unemployment, only surveys about 150,000 people, which is considered one of the most accurate. Of course they aren't perfect but surveyors account for that. There's margins of error and outliers but overall it leads to the popular opinion. On topic: I know many people with AT&T who hate their service. The only reason they stick to it is if they don't pay for the service themselves (like their parents do) or they like their iPhone and contract isn't over yet.
  • if that is the case, then how did they get figures as high as 13.7 million unemployed on the National conference of legislation if they only surveyed 150k people? (this is purely for me to understand how they get these numbers. No challenge or spite included) On topic about at&t, I used to live in atlanta and AT&T is awesome there. I had no problems at all with service. but here in Cali, it kinda gets shifty every once in a while but it's no where as terrible as people claim it to be. Alot of it is exaggerated and sometimes completely overblown. (I do know there is those who do really get craptastic reception and aren't exaggerating it)
  • Unfortunately 58,000 is a really good sample size, which is the reason you can't really trust statistics. Those who take to polls really know how to skew the results. Perfect example, Fox News had polls done which predicted McCain would win the last election (and we all know that's far from the truth) As for AT&T, rather than make huge investments in order to better their network and keep their customers happy (like Sprint is doing), they want to rely on Apple's advertising to keep them in business and they just make sure their network is just good enough.
  • .
  • Have you ever heard of the science of "polling"? It's used all the time and the better ones are pretty accurate. usually you will see these things called "polls" around election-time, but it's not limited to political questions. That being said, these threads tend to boil down to a variation of the following post: "I live in and I have great coverage on . Some of my friends and family have and and ... which are so unreliable and have horrible coverage." Basically, coverage and data speeds can vary neighborhood to neighborhood. I have T-Mobile where I go, my service is generally very good.
  • You forget many people haven't cancelled contracts...but by the time the 4g lte verizon iphone comes round of iphone 5....you'll see a loss of cusotmers starting....especially as vzw 4g lte starts rolling out to more places...
  • Just like they had the "fewest dropped calls". Wow! What delusions of grandeur for a company whose icon and name USED to mean something. #Fail and now #DoubleFail. I wholeheartedly agree with the author (Sorry didn't notice if it was Phil or Jerry or another AC-writer). We need a standard for 4G and it should come from an independent body that sets the guidelines and doesn't let the carriers push the envelope and make 4G apply to whatever they're serving up for network coverage. At the end of the day I care about most things relative to my Android phone but mostly I care about whether I have network connectivity and whether I can send emails and text and make/receive calls when I need to. And that takes a back seat to the fun apps on my phone, even Angry Birds (lol).
  • There is a group like that, called the ITU. The term '4G' originally described a network with download speeds of 100Mbit/s when moving and 1 Gbit/s when stationary. They have since thrown that out the window and caved in to allow HSPA+, LTE, and WIMAX to be considered 4G.
  • Just like they had the "fewest dropped calls". Wow! What delusions of grandeur for a company whose icon and name USED to mean something. #Fail and now #DoubleFail. I wholeheartedly agree with the author (Sorry didn't notice if it was Phil or Jerry or another AC-writer). We need a standard for 4G and it should come from an independent body that sets the guidelines and doesn't let the carriers push the envelope and make 4G apply to whatever they're serving up for network coverage. At the end of the day I care about most things relative to my Android phone but mostly I care about whether I have network connectivity and whether I can send emails and text and make/receive calls when I need to. And that takes a back seat to the fun apps on my phone, even Angry Birds (lol).
  • Honestly, the fact that someone has to have two phones, one to use the internet, and one to place a call is absurd.
  • Fantastic write up. I was at a tmo and I was using speedtest using my Inc with weak 3G against a G2X with full Faux G and down and up were damn near the same speeds for both, I did numerous test with the same result.
  • 3.1 Mbps max on verizon 3g... you must be in a city that only has tmo edge lol because my nexus one averages 5Mbps on HSPA in my city. i have run speed tests on the HSPA+ phones and hit 8Mbps consistently. I wish everyone, yes even verizon with LTE, would have just called it 3g+ or 3gLTE if they needed to differentiate the speeds on these upgraded networks.... until LTE advanced
  • First off I'd like to say I'm one of those who checks AC while at work out saves me from dying at work and second every companytells a lie amass to be truthful vzm had the fastest "4G" but that's here in the states, europe has true 4G with much more then 12-22 mb of download
  • Sorry buck. Most of Europe doesn't have any 4G. The fastest network over there is Telia 4G in Sweden which maxes at 80Mbps and averages 15-20Mbps, That isn't much faster than VZW LTE which maxes out at 55Mbps and averages 7-12Mbps They don't even offer phones with LTE What they don't do is call HSPA+ 4G. They simply call it 3G+
  • this article specifically points out at&t but why not blame the one who started this (tmobile) as well
  • (sprint)
  • When Sprint first called WiMax "4G", it essentially *was* 4G, as far as anyone was concerned, because the ITU had not defined "4G" at the time. Later the ITU definition came out and it suddenly was not 4G. Then the ITU definition was changed again, and it was once again 4G. Whew
  • You don't see T-Mobile putting "4G HSPA+ with advanced backhaul" on the packaging. I agree with you Phil. Customers should never see this on a package, for one, like you said, they don't even know what it actually means, and truthfully, do they really care?
  • I love my G2 and hspa+ speeds. I don't care whaat they call it as long as I get faster speeeds as I live in a 4G area. I'd rather have hspa+ and the go to lte. If lte goes out in the future for tmoble or at&t thenwe drop down to the 42 mbps which is comparable to lte now. When verizon drops they'll go to regular 3G or 2G which will be very noticlable.
  • i have the thunderbolt, and when lte went down, on sites i visited, being careful not to go to some, the drop in speed wasnt that noticible. with youtube it was adn im sure any other site with streaming media.
  • Interesting post. I agree wholeheartedly but I think you missed a few points. AT&T (in this example) is a shameless corporation. In some densely populated markets they barely provide adequate 3G. Now they are going to try and build 4G on top of that already questionable 3G network? They obviously have no common sense, nor respect for their customers whom they extort with every new change in their plans. They will never learn until something serious happens where they start hemorrhaging customers severely like Sprint did for a while. Next, yes customers are dumb when it comes to technical things, but they will eventually figure out that all these specs are just smoke and mirrors and will go to a carrier where they get great phones and good service for a reasonable price. Eventually AT&T will only be fooling themselves, and will only have themselves to blame.
  • Oh, haven't you guessed? That's what this whole AT&T buyout T-Mobile is for. A carrier with crappy service buying out a more superior carrier so they don't have to build anything for a while. They can just sit back & delude themselves while waiting until 65-75% of T-Mobile customers jump ship after the acquisition. Not like they won't lose 40% of their own customers once their new iPhone customers contracts are up.
  • Corporations don't have to respect their customers. If you feel disrespected, you can leave. They don't owe you anything. If you don't agree with what they're doing, you have other options. It's not their jobs to provide you anything more than what's currently available. If you don't like it, leave. Did I mention that you can switch carriers?
  • They don't put that stuff on the box for normal users. They put that stuff on the box for us geeks. We need our specs. We love our specs. We have a right to know our specs. These things are like computers, and while some people just want a computer for email and the web & therefore don't give a damn about what's inside the tower, those of us who want to do more are looking at every single component to make sure it's up to snuff.
  • Phil you do write good subject on the cell phones,I do read it all the time just to kill time. But not to know what out there! The mean thing and the truth is not what you and others writing in here or somewhere else, the truth is out in the open traveling not to do testing in the central of the big city.. The bottom line is all the smartphone and the network going to have it up and down and no one better than the others,I had AT&T and T-mobile and am with Sprint now for almost 10 years.. None of the three wirless company has perfect signal everywhere, I drove Big truck from coast to coast and that`s the best test you can get. If you are happy whith who you`r with stop complaining and stay with.
  • At&t is a JOKE sorry at&t customers
  • It's arguably criminal that the ITU revised their global standard definitions of 3G and 4G to accommodate the powerful US carriers, NONE of whom met any of the criteria for even 3G service, as the rest of the world defines it. If the ITU hadn't done that, there would have been legal grounds to go after the US cellcos. But now...Good luck trying to make any of them unfork their tongues. Which I agree, they should be forced to so. US customers pay some of the highest rates for some of the slowest service on the planet, and allowed the cellcos to all lie about what they offer doesn't help that.
  • I'm a geek in many ways, but my interests in mobile devices are all about functionality, specifically mobile functionality. I want technology that enhances my life while remaining understated. Contrary to mobile device advertisements, what phone I use is not going to improve my love life, make me the party savior as I magically pour beer from my phone, or take to me to alternative dimensions; in fact I think too much tech focus will take away from love life, social life, and life in general. Screw that. Feel free to call me a civilian all you want. Faster networks evolve over time, and even then in a geographically clustered way. Living in Montana, where day to day lifestyle is better than most people's vacations but infrastructure is limited, I don't care what they call 3G or 4G or how they market either. I want the whole package to work for my needs. And for functionality in these rapidly evolving tech times, I need that functionality to keep pace over a 2-year prison sentence (i.e., contract). That's where I will give the detailed specs and likelihood of operating system updates a closer look. And that's where android is starting to come apart at the seems. I will watch google io this week very closely and then peek at what's coming from the walled eden of apple. My loyalty is to my needs.
  • Wow talk about missing it. People very much care about advanced backhaul and HSBS + and HYPERAMOLED 2. You can head your nearest electronics store and see the average Joe buying based off these things. Now that doesn't mean they understand them. But they do care that their phone has more G's than yours.
  • I agree that the marketing has made people care about "how many G's" their phone has... people come in to my store telling me they need a "4G" phone and then tell me that they dont want a data plan LOL. I bet most people dont even know what the 4G is referring to...
  • I think that I'm just getting tired of every company trying to define for themselves what exactly 4G is. You have LTE, Wimax, and HSPA+, now we are talking "backhaul"??? What is that? Actually backhaul sounds like something lil' Wayne would put in one of his videos.
    There needs to be a standard, a goal speed that the carriers need to meet to define their service as 4G. If they can't reach it, let them call it LTE, or Wimax (which is a joke in itself)or HSPA+. But all of these can not be 4G.
  • There IS a 4G standard, set by the International Telecommunications Union http://www.itu.int/en/Pages/default.aspx that defines 4G. And NO CARRIER meets the standard, not by a long shot. But ITU recently ruled that carriers that are enhancing their 3G networks for higher speeds can call their networks 4G, because they are not, technically, 3G networks anymore. Why everyone jumps on AT&T is beyond me. All carriers claiming 4G are NOT truly 4G. The current speeds aren't even close. Look it up.
  • I own a small business with about 15 cell phones. I've tried all the carriers over the years, with only ONE that stands out. Verizon. My # with Verizon is 23 years old, and for good reason. When we have tried AT&T, (which we have done more than once) their service is always the same. It is just poor. They advertise they have the fastest network, but REALLY? You need quality of service inorder to succeed in todays world. I don't know if they will ever get it. They won't invest money in their network like VERIZON.
    Verizon is the way to go for speed and quality, and with their investment, they will always be.
  • I'm curious how the author of this article would *prefer* that Samsung and AT&T's marketing departments sell their Android devices that are largely the same. Its true that, in large part, consumers only care about browsing, Facebook, Angry Birds and all of the other very basic, non-spec related things that they'll need. That's what will drive a customer into the store. But what about once they get there? How do they determined which one to get? One way is pure aesthetics, which is why you see so many functional and non-functional demo units. But there will always be those customers that, while they have no idea what they mean, will determine *which* Android phone to get based on some spec or another that makes one phone sound better than the rest. Perhaps most of all, though, the author is complaining about a spec written on the *box* of a device? Why? Unless you're going to stores I've never seen, the box is the last thing a customer uses to determine what phone to buy and the first thing they see *after* shelling out their hard-earned money. In fact, the best time to give a customer more information about all of their fancy new phones minutia, it's right after they've spent a bunch of money and are the most excited to explore their new phone. Get your customer hooked'on whatever you can, get them back in the next year. It's true that marketers emphasize the less common aspects of the device to customers. They do this because that's their *job*. You're not going to sell your device over any other device, whether it be another Android phone, an iPhone, or even a WP7 device by touting how it has a web browser or Facebook application. It's called differentiation.
  • actually what AT&T is doing is called, "false advertising." I agree that the box is really not very important, but for all we know, that same information might find its way onto a little card next a demo phone in a store. The point is that this is a sign of AT&T's (and other carriers') comfort with bending the truth or misleading their customers. As for differentiation, Android does that already by allowing users freedom of choice in real specs, form factors, user customization and manufacturer skins. There's no need for AT&T to advertise imaginary specs when Android already offers much more choice and customization than any other phone, even when comparing one Android to another.
  • How is it any different than T-Mobile calling HSPA+ 4G? People like to hate on AT&T. I really don't think it's their intention to mislead customers. It's marketing speak and every company does it. T-Mobile calls their HSPA+ network "the nation's largest 4G network". I don't see how AT&T talking about an overhauled backend any worse - especially when it's a fine print area on a box. If you mean the fact that they mention it's not available in all areas, how is that different from Sprint or Verizon? At least AT&T is telling customers that just because you have a 4G phone doesn't mean you'll always get 4G speeds...
  • It's not different, that's why I mentioned that ALL THE CARRIERS are guilty of misleading their customers with this 4G false advertising fiasco. Personally, I think the author just found the box to be another sign of the carriers (in this case, AT&T's) lack of honesty and their missing the point of what customers are really looking for. It's not that the box was worse than any other practice by any other company. But imo, I do think it's criminal of AT&T to advertise a 4G network when it's very well documented that even their 3G network still needs a lot of work.
  • I wouldn't say it should be criminal. Honestly, AT&T's 3G isn't half bad. Faster than Verizon's in most cases, and I've only had two cases in the last 7 years or so with AT&T where I haven't been able to get 3G in a 3G coverage area. I have no complaints. And every carrier is going to have issues in some areas...especially major cities. That said, AT&T's 4G network is an upgrade from the 3G. It may not be a huge upgrade like LTE would be, but it's still technically an upgrade. I don't think they're doing anything wrong.
  • I'm glad your experience with AT&T has been good, but in general AT&T has more issues than other carriers. Personally I know lots of people who've had problems with their AT&T data connection. Does that mean AT&T has horrible data all the time and in every city? What about your example, does that mean everyone has great AT&T service and always has faster data than Verizon in every 3G area? In both cases, the answer is no. Every area and each user's experience are different. I just think that AT&T has a lot of work to do. They have great phones, and I would love for AT&T to have a better network. That would help AT&T customers, and ultimately would push the other carriers to compete and improve their networks. Everybody would win. But I don't like this fake 4G race, and ALL of the carriers are doing it, not just AT&T.
  • Differentiation my hind quarters. It's called a "Jargon war", and it's no different than when the oil companies did it with gasoline additives. Very few customers have a clue what the jargon means, and most of the sales people are just parroting what they've been told in the orientation session. So where's the differentiation? At best it's bragging points, at worst it's meaningless drivel.
  • Commenting on the posts about the standards for speed the ITU set down, i cant remember the site with the information but over the next 2 years the UK will be rolling out 4G to 99.9% of the whole country, getting ride of 2G and EDGE altogether and having 3G in the most rural areas, and our governments Communication Department, Ofcom (exactly the same as the FCC) and the main point of this post is that if the carrier does not give the 100Mbit/s while moving and 1GBit/s stationary speed by the time the roll out is meant to commence they will fall behind the other carriers until the speeds do match up. A lot stricter over here with a lot of things, works out in the long term.
  • Commenting on the posts about the standards for speed the ITU set down, i cant remember the site with the information but over the next 2 years the UK will be rolling out 4G to 99.9% of the whole country, getting rid of 2G and EDGE altogether and having 3G in the most rural areas, and our governments Communication Department, Ofcom (exactly the same as the FCC) and the main point of this post is that if the carrier does not give the 100Mbit/s while moving and 1GBit/s stationary speed by the time the roll out is meant to commence they will fall behind the other carriers until the speeds do match up. A lot stricter over here with a lot of things, works out in the long term.
  • Mmm yeah I might be leaving ATT when my contract is done.
  • I think you're making a bigger deal of this than is necessary. Most people won't even look or care about what's in the extra little paragraph on the side of the box. Who cares what AT&T calls 4G? Besides, T-Mobile uses the same tech and calls it 4G. As for customers never needing to see most of the specs they're seeing, I disagree. Would you say they don't need to see all these specs when they're buying a new computer? The more information a customer has access to, the better informed they can be about their purchase. And smartphones are starting to converge on the PC market, too. We're seeing growth in the mobile phone industry at a rate not unlike that of the PC boom years ago. The industry is changing. The thing in your pocket isn't only something that makes calls anymore. In all honesty, I think this whole editorial was unnecessary. I get that it's just an opinion, but it seems like it's just complaints for the sake of complaining. Yes, customers may not care about all these specs and terms on the box, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be there. Companies need a way to get their phones noticed. Besides, there is a portion of the market who very much cares about the specs they're getting. I don't know about you, but it annoys the hell out of me when I have to do digging online to determine what's inside a specific phone.
  • The only time a speed faster than 4Mbps seems to matter is when downloading large files. Anything faster than 4Mbps doesn't matter yet since the tiny little CPU in our phones at this time chokes on more data so you need more RAM to keep it in check while it renders the data into something you can see on the screen. Faster speeds are GREAT for downloading MP3's though, so dial it up to 11 and let it roll.
  • I got the Atrix a month ago. It is my first time on AT&T. I was very disappointed with the data speeds at first. I live in Philadelphia and had Verizon and T mobile and data was faster with my pos my touch 4g.
    After receiving the last update on the Atrix I have noticed a world of difference. I'm not one of those tech I'm pulling down this many or any of that people, but I am now happy and the data in 4g is just as fast as my wifi at home. Hope everyone gets to this level I know all the companies blow smoke but I love this phone and the service.
  • I hate how all of the HSPA+ carriers in the US are lying and saying it's 4G, Sprint's WiMAX is 4G, Verizon's LTE is 4G, MetroPCS's LTE is 4G, but T-Mobile's
    "4G" is really 3.5G, same with AT&T's HSPA+.
  • WiMax and LTE are not 4G by the standards laid out for it.
  • if we went by the true standards wimax inst 4g but a path to wimax2 which is 4g. also does it really matter as currently t mobiles 42mbps hspa+ ntwork is faster and in more places than wimax.
  • Just ask AT&T, they will tell you they have the fastest 4G network in this country. Believe that then I have a great little ice cube company in Alaska I'm willing to give it to you at a great price. Still hoping that T-Mobile somehow snaps out of it and gets out of this buy out. Maybe Uncle Sam will shut the door on this buy out. Getting over 6.5 MB on DL on my Nexus One and allot more then that on my new G2X. Call it what you want I just call it fast. Thanks T-Mobile, fastest and best Network period.
  • Um, the Nexus One is 3G only. It does not support HSPA+ (or AT&T's 4G). The G2x does support T-Mobile's '4G'. How can you compare the two?
  • I noticed this "enhanced backhaul" crap all over their website the other day when I was trying to figure out exactly WHERE they have "4G" (protip: they won't actually tell you). I actually took it as a disclaimer as if to say "Hey, we have HSPA+ signal in a whole lot of areas but it won't make any difference until we pair it with enhanced backhaul from the cell sites". That's just me, though. It wouldn't surprise me to see AT&T try to cover their butts on this. They know calling their network 4G is a stretch.
  • Great points. "Specs are good. Increments are important. But they also should be invisible, and the platform sold as a whole product. Because while some are cheering the difference between AMOLED, Super AMOLED, Super AMOLED Plus, HSPA, HSPA+, climbing slightly higher with each iteration, Apple's been circling the globe, millions of passengers in tow, its eyes locked firmly on the horizon (if not beyond)." This is exactly the problem with Verizon's commercials too. Don't tell us the alphabet soup of what the phone has. Tell us what it DOES. Show me the apps. Apple does a BRILLIANT job of this. Heck, even Amazon does this with its Kindle reader. None of the Android vendors do this well. I say this as an Android fan and user. Android is going to lose the next generation of users, particularly the half of the market that is women, unless it can come up with a better story than its current "4 barrel fuel injection" sales pitch.
  • I hope Wimax 2 comes out soon. That is the true definition of 4g as we know it. I personally am sick of this advertising though. I actually fell for the Evo ads about 4g back when it was announced in March 2010. At this point, I don't even use the so called "4g" function since my phone speeds don't appear much faster and my battery life drains much quicker.
  • In my opinion, LTE is 4G. This is because if you look at the jump from 2G to 3G, the average speed on 3G were approximately 15-25 times as fast as 2G. Now, if you look at the speed differences between 3G and LTE, you will see that LTE is roughly 15-25 times as fast as 3G. I would side with Sprint IF they didn't charge the 10$ "Premium Data" charge. AT&T and T-Mobile are just plain lying.
  • You (and Verizon) might think it's 4G, but officially LTE is not the same as 4G. 4G has very clear and strict definitions: 4G Requirements So yes, it might be fast, but it's not 4G.
  • Seems like NTT could run global adspromoting their baby, LTE. "If it isn't LTE, it isn't 4G." Something like that. Even though, yes, I know not all LTE networks are "really" 4G.
  • Now if the FCC really wanted to add a layer of regulation, phone packaging and advertising would have some sort of colorful xxxmbps/xxxmbps logo on it, displaying the typical downstream/upstream rates in areas that have the 4G network. Think of it as a nutrition label for mobile devices.
  • Now I'm confused. I thought AT&T and Verizon were both going with LTE, and I also thought Sprint was considering a change to LTE themselves. Does AT&T have an LTE build in progress? Or, will all mobile phones in the U.S. ALWAYS just be incompatible outside their home networks?
  • Wall outlets, car sides, metric system.... America is just different haha
  • ??? 1) All outlets in the USA are the same and compatible. In fact, they are the same and compatible throughout all of North America.
    2) If by "car sides" you mean side of the road, it is the same everywhere in the USA.
    3) Metric system- OK, well that is still a mess.
  • It doesn't matter what tech is used, phones will still be locked to carriers in the US and won't be "compatible". Such is life here :( Oh I long for the day of: 1) No more contracts
    2) No more carrier-supplied phones
    3) Being able to pick the phone AND carrier of my choice
    4) Updates supplied, timely, by the manufacturer
    5) No more lies about coverage or speeds I will keep dreaming.
  • Which would you like to kill: CDMA or GSM? If we could somehow merge the technologies and create a standard for phones to run on all bands and all networks, then that would be fantastic. Unfortunately, one thing is stopping this from happening. It's called money and unless the world radically changed and became super friendly and would share everything for free, then this can only stay as a dream. Yeah, communism didn't work, so this won't be happening ;) One thing I want to stop is the shady advertising. I hate how companies can ride the edge of the line between legal and illegal and get away with it.
  • If you have the money for phones up front, you don't need contracts and you don't need a carrier-supplied phone. Also, once LTE Is available from AT&T and Verizon, you won't even be limited to a single carrier because they'll be universal. I hate how everyone jumps down AT&T's throat for this. Seriously, just because Verizon has LTE doesn't mean that it's 4G. Their to phone speeds barely beat AT&T's and if AT&T pushes the backhaul like they're suggesting they are and will be doing, then I'm sure they'll stay competitive. Just look at TMobile's HSPA+. They're rumored to be rolling out speeds like 42Mbps download. Verizon LTE doesn't do that yet. So it's all about backhaul and network design. Just because 1xEVDO was slow and limited, doesn't mean that LTE is any more 4G than HSPA+.
  • What are you talking about? Someone else mentioned earlier in this thread that Verizon's current iteration of LTE maxes out at 55Mbps. Heck I AVERAGE about 20Mbps on my Thunderbolt. I don't know why people keep saying that Verizon only averages about 7-12Mbps. I average that when I'm at home in an Extended Coverage area. Verizon markets 5-12Mbps because they are more responsible and honest than the likes of AT&T and T-Mobile. They are basing their estimates on a fully loaded LTE network (not just everyone currently on Verizon being on LTE, but the network being almost overloaded) because they are wanting their LTE network to be finished and nationwide by the end of next year. The simple fact that AT&T is now calling their HSPA+ network 4G after complaining about T-Mobile tells me that they aren't planning on getting on LTE as quickly as originally thought. If I were an AT&T customer I would be royally po'd and would not be defending them. I have a feeling that unless the AT&T and T-Mobile merger occurs, AT&T's facade is about to crumble to the ground. They lost their iPhone exclusivity, they were behind on the Android front and now they are behind on the network improvements. It'll be interesting to see what happens this time next year when Verizon is almost finished with its roll out of LTE.
  • No one here knows what benchmark means. The misuse of two terms, now Android Central has something in common with AT&T.
  • I agree that none of the carriers offer true 4G speeds as defined by the standards body. But 100Mbps? That's a huge jump from the current 3G speeds. And not a jump I'm willing or even wanting to pay for. Whatever they decide to call it, if they choose to market something as "4G" then it really should come with a huge speed jump. I was on another site's forum page and they were comparing their new updated 4G speeds on their Atrix and Inspire phones. They were reporting speeds between 2-5Mbps down and 1-2Mbps up. Really? I'm getting between 14-31Mbps down and 4-6Mbps up on my Thunderbolt. Surely not the 100Mbps the true standard demands, but fast enough to make say "wow". It's a difference that really makes me stand up and notice, not just for label sake. Everyone is planning on or contemplating on moving over to LTE for a reason.
  • The only people that actually read the box are the ones that want to know what they are getting. You say that customers never should see the specs? These customers you speak of are the ones buying midrange Android because it looks cheaper, Windows Phone 7 because it looks easy, iPhone because its established and messaging phones. Not too many first-timers out there taking a $200.00 upfront and increased data plan rate flyer on a 4G phone. Stores don't stock the boxes on the shelves for customers to manhandle before they buy them, and realistically how many of you, before you became "phone geeks" actually read the BS the carrier put on the box. AT&T is providing full disclosure for the people actually reading it so "phone geeks" don't complain "4G HSPA+! I hardly get 3G now!" Instead, "phone geeks" are so picky that they rip apart the stuff that NO ONE actually reads. AT&T is being responsible and advertising they are currently rolling out their HSPA+ and it may not be available in all areas. What's with the hate for AT&T, what about Verizon, who released a LTE phone, with no LTE coverage, and are only now (when?) releasing their second. By my count, AT&T is on the verge of launching their third HSPA+ enabled device with rollout already in gear. Get with it people, AT&T is fully disclosing their services to the only ones who actually care.
  • You clearly have no clue what you are talking about. Verizon had LTE in over 30 cities in December and they had even more by the time the Thunderbolt came out and they'll have even more by the time the Charge comes out and they'll have even more by the time the Revolution and the Bionic come out. Verizon is planning on NATIONWIDE LTE coverage by the end of next year. AT&T still doesn't have nationwide 3G coverage.
  • Will the Infuse truly is a "4G" phone
  • Will the Infuse truly is a "4G" phone
  • Due to the lack of service, 4G is pretty useless as a selling point for a smart phone and that includes all of the networks. I rarely use 4G on my EVO because 4G service isn't available all over Atlanta. Until 4G availability is as common as 3G, 4G really won't matter. It sucks to pay a $10 premium for a service that rarely works, but hey, "In the Network, there are no other choices".
  • I'm sorry--I don't know what advanced backhaul is. What IS that?
  • Who cares what advanced backhaul is? There are spots all over Atlanta where my AT&T phone dropped calls with 3G. I switched to Sprint and everywhere I dropped calls on AT&T, I get a strong signal. AT&T's 3G coverage is spotty in Atlanta. I seriously doubt their "4G HSPA+ w/Backhaul" provides coverage all over town.
  • More to the point, if we take the iPhone/iPad approach that "no one really needs to know what the technology is, just that it works and the user experience is good", then we start accepting lack of features and capabilities as being acceptable. AT&T's 3G network coverage in Atlanta was unacceptable. I don't hold much hope for their 4G Backhaul coverage to be any better. I'd love to be wrong about that.
  • I've taken my own small survey, and it says that AT&T is the anti-Christ. Their business model is bases on lies and extortion. They cheat customers at every turn, with a single goal of locking them into perpetual over priced contracts.
  • I think the FCC should just mandate the following information on all cell phone advertisements, and carriers can get rid off their acronyms and marketing hype. Most people sign up for 2-year contracts, so give them the information they need to decide if their phone meets their network needs for next 2 years with these 4 simple pieces of information: Max theoretical speed of device.
    URL to present-day coverage map and 'expected' speeds.
    URL to 1-year future coverage map and 'expected' speeds.
    URL to 2-year future coverage map and 'expected' speeds.
  • Looks like T-Mobile was right when they kept harping on the fact that they had America's largest 4G network. Although AT&T disputed it by claiming they would be covering people with HSPA+ than T-Mobile by the end of 2010, looks like they were lying. Maybe they upgraded their equipment to HSPA+ in those areas, but if they never had the backhaul installed (i.e. T1 and fiber) then it was pointless. This would explain why they were crippling speeds on supposed "HSPA+" devices.
  • This comparison test of ATT's 3G, 4G, and Verizon's 4G LTE shows the disparity between 4G standards: http://www.careace.net/2011/05/06/comparison-samsung-droid-charge-4g-lte... 3G on the Captivate clocks in at a mere .7Mbps down. 4G on the Infuse runs at 4.14 Mbps while Verizon's 4G LTE on the Charge blows it away at 20.99 Mbps. A 5 fold increase within 'comparable' 4G networks seems pretty ridiculous.
  • A rose is a rose but ATT sucks BIG time
  • Ok, lets clear some of the smoke then. First thing to understand is the definitions of this "4G" stuff: 4G: 4th Generation. Stop reading further into that, its the 4th generation of the wireless service. There's no legal speed requirement or anything, its just the number that comes after 3. LTE (Verizon, AT&T later this year): Long Term Evolution. Basically, its another level of network that will be upgradeable to be faster and faster, kind of like how AT&T's 3G network (for those of you taking notes at home, that's the same as HSDPA) works now. Yes, LTE achieves faster internet now, but the main idea of LTE is that it will be continued to be upgraded faster and faster. HSPA+ (AT&T and T-Mobile): 3G on steroids. The politically correct term for this is "enhanced backhaul". If you take a look at www.att.com/network AT&T describes the "enhanced backhaul" as 4x faster than 3G, therefore achieving 4G-like speeds. The footprint for where HSPA+ data is very similar to AT&T's 3G coverage map. I haven't seen any coverage maps for T-Mobile's 4G service, (if anyone can help me here that would be great). All depends on where you are, but its essentially going to be wherever there's 3G some phones will get said 4G speeds. WiMax (Sprint): Last I heard it was being compared to as essentially putting a Wi-Fi router on a telephone pole and calling it 4G, but I honestly don't know too much about WiMax, maybe someone can help me out there. Regardless, in my experience, its hard to come across good service on a Sprint phone, never mind 4G speeds. So there's a start for all this 4G talk. To give you a better idea of where I am coming from, I am a happy AT&T customer in the Boston area using an Inspire 4G. My brother is on Sprint with an EVO 4G. We just took a road trip that took us to NJ and VA. I was using WiFi Hotspot on my Inspire playing MMO games with massive upload and download amounts IN THE TRUCK ON THE HIGHWAY (brother was driving of course). When we got to the hotel we both logged online with our laptops to the WiFi Hotspot on my Inspire playing the same data-intensive game, with a little lag. It did MUCH better than I ever imagined. Again, take it for what you will, that's my experience, I know its not the same across the board. That being said, I know I won't go anywhere else than AT&T because data is the future of mobile computing and AT&T has been PROVEN to be the best for mobile data and they are getting better and faster. (see PC World's data speed tests, they have run a bunch in the last few years) As for including the whole "enhanced backhaul" thing on the box, that's just AT&T covering its a**. If 4G gets an official definition and someone sues AT&T for not getting 4G speeds, the box says exactly what AT&T defines as "4G". AT&T is good at the legality part of their business, for better or worse.
  • I work in the industry as a contractor, and I have to know what I install, and I can say that you are pretty much right on. There are a couple things, LTE is not an advantage because it's a lot easier to upgrade compared to 3G (Mattering your company, Mattering the name of the network) but it also uses a lower frequency to achieve the high speeds, which means it can be transmitted further without the need of more towers (but that all matters to the logistics of each network). The naming all matters to a couple of things, standards and the company in question. LTE, although has no speed standard, has a book thick standard for what the network must consist of. This is also the main standard of 4G, which is why At&t needs that paragraph for it's HSPA+ 4G claim. You're question about Sprint's WiMax network, I haven't work for Sprint before, but I have done work for a company that used WiMax for the booming WiFi for pay networks (all the over if WiFi, that's it). And WiMax is basically LTE with a different name. Any true 4G (LTE, WiMax, etc.) will be WiFi on wheels speed. It's just how the network works. And I agree about At&t, they do have the fastest network (advantage of GSM really is speed, at the cost of distance) but they do have issues of keeping that network running, why? Walk into a Verizon CO, and then an AT&T one, and you will see why. AT&T is so bogged down with years of negligence from the SBC years, and old Cingullar offices being the worst. Verizon used to be bad, but that's the advantage of being one company and not four trying to be one, you can get things done. I can tell you Verizon COs doesn't have nothing out date just setting there causing heat and collecting dust, At&t, well I'm sure a couple of shelves were new in '85.
  • All of this talk about "4G" this, "not-4G" that, and I really only pay attention to one thing: ATT, TMO, and Sprint all tout downlink numbers that are theoretical and most likely will never come close to reaching. T-Mobile says you can get up to 42 Mbps with their "4G" phones, but even in markets WITH their 42 Mbps HSPA+ network in place, I've yet to see anyone achieve anything over 20 (and even that's rare). Same thing with ATT's claims, and Sprint's WiiMax is just woeful. Verizon on the other hand, completely underplays the speeds you can regularly achieve on their LTE network. They say you should getting anywhere from 5-15 Mbps down, well on average I get about 25 Mbps, and a lot of the time I see speeds coming closer to 50 Mbps. Could this change in the future? Absolutely. But with everybody claiming they have either the largest or fastest (or both) "4G" network in the US, I'm sticking with the guy that produces the best results.