The Battle of FauxG

5:50 PM -- Are you sick of the fauxG marketing wars yet? Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR), MetroPCS Inc. (NYSE: PCS), Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), and T-Mobile US Inc. are now all claiming to offer "4G" networks in cities; Verizon Wireless will soon join their ranks. In reality, however, all these operators are offering fauxG services, since none of the networks meets the 4G standards laid down by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) . In fact, the ITU recently came out and said that it sees the next generation of tech specs due to be standardized -- LTE Advanced and 802.16m -- as true 4G technology. These are likely to be years off commercial deployment.

Yet operators, in the US at least, appear to have stepped up their 4G marketing efforts. In one sense, it doesn't matter so much; after all, LTE, WiMax and even HSPA+ all do offer better mobile broadband performance than previous 3G standards.

Nonetheless, I do think operators would do well to manage their potential customers' expectations. When operators initially started to market their 3G services earlier this decade, hardly anyone knew what the term meant so it didn't matter so much if the early hype didn't match the actual reality.

Now ride around on the NYC subway, wander down a Chicago street, or grab coffee at a San Francisco Starbucks and people are talking wireless. Thanks to the 3G revolution and the devices enabled by it, like the iPhone, people are buzzing about wireless and jazzed about the explosion of choice they have in devices and services.

So, even if the average person on the street doesn't exactly know what "4G" is, at a technical level, they are much more au fait with the idea that this is the next phase in the mobile revolution, and many of them are excited by the idea of applications like video chat and streaming TV on their phones.

Overselling mobile broadband services as "4G" services is a quick way to make people sour on the whole concept. I think operators would be much better off giving us average performance times for applications and services we actually use rather than getting in a slap fight about "4G."

For instance, how about:

  • Average time it takes to load Facebook and upload photos.
  • How quickly a streaming video on YouTube takes to load up.
  • How fast you can send an email or photo from the device.
  • How speedily it can render popular Websites (pick your faves).
  • How fast a video chat connection can be established.

I'm sure you can think of other metrics that fit. I think these would give you a better concept of how the device actually performs on the network though, rather than some of the improbable maximum download speeds being bandied around.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:19:06 PM
re: The Battle of FauxG


This just in from our analcyst.

LA - SF - Seattle - Chicago - Dallas - Atlanta - Miami - Houston - Las Vegas - Kansas City - Nashville - Jacksonville - Tampa - Detroit - Cleveland - San Diego all will not get 4G from Verizon Wireless.

Good Data to know.



spc_markl 12/5/2012 | 4:19:06 PM
re: The Battle of FauxG

Whatever Verizon Wireless winds up calling 4G, it will tend to be found in cities in which there is FiOS.  All of the other areas will get a 3G upgrade.

Mark Lutkowitz, Telecom Pragmatics

Stevery 12/5/2012 | 4:19:05 PM
re: The Battle of FauxG

> I'm sure you can think of other metrics that fit.

How about old-fashioned bandwidth and latency?  As more and more flash speedtest sites popup, it is going to be harder to game the routes.

And eventually, someone is going to put out an aggregated measure to multiples of those sites.

spc_markl 12/5/2012 | 4:19:05 PM
re: The Battle of FauxG

Response to the dimwit,

If all we had to do over the years was look at service provider annoncements and what we thought would be logical moves, there would be no need for market research.  Sometimes press releases exaggerate or there are just changes. I guess you never experienced this ever happening (by the way 1989 was supposed to be a big year for FTTH).  In fact, a real takeoff of LTE may not be for another couple of years anyway.

We just don't take it from the air.   There is something called primary research.  Our contacts at Verizon have told us that at least for the foreseeable future, in general, "follow the FiOS map" for 4G. (We have received confirmation on this path even from some suppliers.) While there will be exceptions like Chicago (where Verizon has a heavy presence) or Vegas (to retaliate against Sprint), the priority is going to be on where FiOS exists (which by the way includes LA going towards San Diego, Seattle, Dallas, Jacksonville, and Tampa).  Even Atlanta has some FiOS.  While we believe that SF will be a priority, at this time we do not see the other cities you mentioned as necessarily being in the first tier.

The bigger point is that 4G for both Verizon Wireless and Sprint will tend to be limited to NFL cities.  We are further saying that the the main push for Verizon will be FiOS cities.



Michelle Donegan 12/5/2012 | 4:19:04 PM
re: The Battle of FauxG

FauxG is not just a US phenomenon. TeliaSonera calls their LTE networks 4G too. I think NTT DoCoMo is the only operator to resist the 4G marketing temptation. Even on its website now, it refers to LTE as an "evolved 3G system." They got around the G issue altogether and branded their LTE service Xi.

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:19:03 PM
re: The Battle of FauxG


Note Mark, 

I used basically NFL cities which you categorically stated in your previous post would NOT get 4G because they were not FiOS.  Given the poor quality of your thought, I am simply pointing out the lack of depth of your research.


LA does NOT have FiOS - Orange County does.  Please also learn geography.  Plano is not Dallas.



shygye75 12/5/2012 | 4:19:03 PM
re: The Battle of FauxG

"4G" is now more of a marketing label than a technical designation. As such, usage rules are governed by the prinicples of Mad Men rather than the ITU. Didn't the same thing pretty much happen with 3G as well? 

spc_markl 12/5/2012 | 4:19:02 PM
re: The Battle of FauxG


There is no lack of depth.  Verizon has told us to pretty much follow the FiOS map.  I used the word, "tend."

But there is something you can help me out with.  I am being totally serious. Please hold most of the other market research firms to the same high standards despite the fact that all they do is regurgitate supplier propaganda, have their reports vetted by these vendors in advance of publication, and are willing extensions of the PR departments of the manufacturers.  By definition, especially because they do not gather customer intelligence, their information can be as high as 50% incorrect.

When I first got into the business, I would sell to the VPs of marketing.  Now I deal a lot more with analyst relations individuals, who are very nice people, but really are only concerned that you do not say anything bad about their companies.

I am often embarrassed to be associated with a lot of my so-called competitors.  I actually want good competition because hopefully the bulk of the consulting industry can go back to something that at least resembles objectivity and honesty -- and not just being cheerleaders.



somedumbPM 12/5/2012 | 4:19:01 PM
re: The Battle of FauxG

I believe Verizon has significant OSP is some cities' metro areas other than FIOS cities from its WorldCom purchase.  I do not remember all the cities with ethernet services over RPR from about 10 years ago, but there were a few outside of the Northeast footprint. Then there was Brooks, Williams, ICI, MFS etc. -some of those may not have had OSP, but I know a few did.

While it may have not been seen as feasible extend that to evey household in another RBOCs footprint, it may be very feasible to extend it to cell sites that may not already be using it.   I remember WCOM (well an OSP contractor of course) using quite a bit of dynamite in attempts to get fiber to some mountain broadcast site years ago.

This conversation reminds me of the WorldCom/UUNET "Colo NFL Network" project and the great mysterious ITSN project at Bell Atlantic North and South (right after Bell Atlantic bought NYNEX).

edgehead 12/5/2012 | 4:19:00 PM
re: The Battle of FauxG

I agree with mendyk. While the FauxG services do not meet the ITUs definition, I've seen WiMAX in action and it is a big step forward from 3G services. As for the true 4G, I can't get those speeds via wired broadband in my SF neighborhood. I'm not holding my breath for that kind of wireless bandwidth.

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