Apple sued by Australian consumer watchdog over 4G iPad

By Lee Kaelin on March 27, 2012, 8:30 AM

Apple has come under fire in Australia after consumer watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, accused the company of violating the country's laws by misleadingly calling its new iPad as 4G-capable. In a statement issued today, the ACCC said it will apply to the Federal Court of Melbourne for an order against the Cupertino-based giant and is moving for the court to impose fines and an injunction barring sales.

The ACCC says labeling the new tablet as 4G capable is misleading to customers in Australia. Although 4G LTE networks have been deployed in the country, they run on a different band entirely. In Australia, 4G services are provided by Telstra on the 1800MHz frequency band, making them unsuitable for usage with 4G iPad models as the tablet is only capable of using the 700MHz or 2100MHz frequency bands for 4G LTE connectivity.

"Consumers who have purchased or are considering purchasing an iPad with WiFi + 4G should ensure that they have a proper understanding of the mobile data networks which this iPad can directly access," the ACCC stated.

The Apple store for Australia lists the iPad with the same product naming convention as other stores worldwide, but has chosen to explain the differences in a rather confusing manner underneath the Wi-Fi + 4G pricing.

It reads, "the iPad with Wi-Fi + 4G model can roam worldwide on fast GSM/UMTS networks, including HSPA, HSPA+, and DC-HSDPA. When you travel internationally, you can use a micro-SIM card from a local carrier. You can also connect to the 4G LTE networks of AT&T in the U.S. and Bell, Rogers, and Telus in Canada."

In the small print at the bottom of the product page, Apple says "4G coverage is not available in all areas and varies by carrier. Please see your carrier for details."

While the more technically versed might immediately understand the jargon above, it is understandable that those with less experience could be misled by the words used. Also, there is no specific mention on the Australian store that the new model is incompatible with the country’s only available 4G network.

The ACCC’s concern is that the wording leads potential buyers of the new tablet to believe it will connect to the country’s 4G network, but this is not the case.

Apple did not respond to requests for further comment on the matter. The full statement by the ACCC is below.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will be making an application to the Federal Court in Melbourne tomorrow at 9:30am for orders against Apple Pty Limited and Apple Inc (Apple) for alleged contraventions of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

The ACCC alleges that Apple's recent promotion of the new "iPad with WiFi + 4G" is misleading because it represents to Australian consumers that the product "iPad with WiFi + 4G" can, with a SIM card, connect to a 4G mobile data network in Australia, when this is not the case.

The ACCC alleges that Apple's conduct contravenes sections 18, 29(1)(a), 29(1)(g) and 33 of the ACL.

The ACCC is seeking urgent interlocutory relief to ensure consumers are made aware of the correct technical capabilities of this device.

Additionally the ACCC is seeking final orders including injunctions, pecuniary penalties, corrective advertising and refunds to consumers affected.

Consumers who have purchased or are considering purchasing an "iPad with WiFi + 4G" should ensure that they have a proper understanding of the mobile data networks which this iPad can directly access by a SIM card.

User Comments: 14

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Wagan8r Wagan8r said:

I can just see what Steve Jobs' response would have been:

"You're doing 4G wrong."

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

If you hold it up right like this *moves hand up in the air* and just tilt it back a little, so as where you cannot see the screen, but the back of the iPad, it'll pick up the 1800MHz frequency.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

Apple should release an update and call it iAussie, with a band that snaps onto a kangaroo's back to speed it up

MilwaukeeMike said:

Well... obviously they're holding it wrong, but what about the carrier?

Who's providing the data contracts in Australia? When I buy a phone I get signed up right away. Are these customers buying iPads online and then finding out they won't work when they try to get a data contract with a local carrier?

reminds me of when I got my 4G smartphone from Sprint, was charged $10/month extra for 'premium data' because 4G phones use more data. And then found out afterward that Sprint doesn't have 4G coverage in my little town of 1 million people.


From memory Australia will utilize the 700Mhz range once we completely phase out analogue TV. I could be wrong though.

Tygerstrike said:


Dont feel bad. That 10$ is Sprints data fee. It allows you to have unlimited data use. As for 4G, im right there with you. We have about 35000 ppl in our town. The major metro areas all have 4G but us poor little ppl in the sticks have to settle for 3G and maybe 4G sometime in 2013-2015.

Once again Apple cant know every single network in every single country. A slight mistake on their part. An easy fix for them just change what band Ipads sent to Australia recieve on.

Guest said:

why don't people check the band before buying a 4G device? I don't know if it's me or people are just uninformed, but when I was shopping around for a Nexus S I made sure to know what carriers/bands/networks would support the phone. Same thing applies to 4G devices, it's not necessarily Apple's fault that someone didn't even bother to verify they would have 4G service in the area in which they plan to use/own the new iPad

Guest said:

The REAL problem is that what constitutes 3G & 4G are so piss poorly defined here. Optus has been marketing 98% 3G coverage across the country for years now but in fact only have 'proper' 3G in about 12% and operates on lower freqs everywhere else for example.

Too bad our govt and leaders are too bloody ignorant to know the difference and too corrupt to care that there is a the problem. Telco marketing jargon > all.

tengeta tengeta said:

...Didn't Apple already do this with the iPhone a while back?

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

As someone who lives in Australia, this makes me laugh so much. The case is so utterly stupid, it hurts.

And instead of bringing up our lame 4G to 'proper' standards like LTE, ACCC is bringing down Apple for providing it. There's obviously two ways to look at it, but I think that this case is going to leave a feeling of "leave us with our 3G".

Guest said:

Robert Mugabe should decide Apple's fate. He will sort them out quick quick.

a) Lock up top tier management and freeze company assets.

b) Those caught using these dastardly distasteful devices must be locked up and / or sent to China for "re-education".

c) Run for president (again) ha ha

just a thought

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

IT GETS BETTER. The latest development is that apple is voluntarily giving full refunds to anyone not satisfied with the 4G on their new iPad.

What is going on?!?

Guest said:

I asked Vodaphone and they said it would work when the 4G network was turned on. .. Liars

Guest said:

I would just like to state that as now ex dedicated apple fan I found out that apple was not planning to update/upgrade their antennas to the 4g network.

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