Australian agency taking Apple to court over iPad '4G' label

High-speed wireless networking in Australia uses different 4G frequencies than those the new iPad supports, and a consumer commission will seek fines and injunctions barring sales.

third-generation iPad

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said today Apple is violating the Australian Consumer Law by misleadingly labeling its new iPad as 4G-capable, and it will try to get a court to impose fines and an injunction against sales.

The commission will apply to the Federal Court in Melbourne for orders tomorrow morning against Apple, it said in a statement:

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 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.

Apple offers two varieties of the third-generation iPad, one with only Wi-Fi networking and one with wireless network service provided through mobile phone networks. In the United States and some other areas, the wireless network can work with the higher speeds of the LTE standard for 4G networking.

In some parts of the world, though, 4G hasn't arrived, so the new iPad works just at slower 3G speeds. In Australia, though, there is 4G service from Telstra--but it uses an 1800MHz frequency band, ZDNet Australia reports. The new iPad's 4G requires 700MHz or 2100MHz for 4G.

"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," the ACCC said.

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Apple store in Australia uses the standard product naming for the 4G-capable model, but the fine print makes mention of using 4G networks only overseas.

"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," the Apple store iPad product page said today.

The iPad product page in Australia offers the "Wi-Fi + 4G" model, but the fine print below it only promises 4G service in other countries.
The iPad product page in Australia offers the "Wi-Fi + 4G" model, but the fine print below it only promises 4G service in other countries. screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET
 

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