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Apple tries to rebrand 3G as 4G in new iPad palaver

Apple is defending its new iPad, claiming that the 3G networks its new iPad can connect to should count as 4G.

Apple is defending its new iPad from accusations of misleading shoppers, claiming the 3G networks its latest tablet can connect to should count as 4G.

The Californian tech giant is in hot water down under, our sister site ZDNet Australia reports, citing a story in the Australian, where the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is trying to make Apple change the name of its Wi-Fi + 4G tablet.

The reasoning is simple -- the new iPad isn't able to connect to Australia's 4G networks, because the shiny tablet is incompatible with the 1,800MHz spectrum chunk that the nation's 4G network uses. The situation is the same here in the UK.

Apple is fighting back though, in a dramatic way. Its latest defence filing reportedly states that Aussie 3G networks operated by the likes of Telstra, Optus and Vodafone "are 4G networks in accordance with accepted industry and regulatory use of the descriptor 4G".

Apple will probably argue that since some operators market non-LTE services like HSPA+ as '4G', the new iPad does work with 4G networks. Therefore -- according to Apple -- its tablet should be allowed to keep its name.

Here in the UK Orange and T-Mobile have promised to launch '4G' networks before the end of the year, using HSPA+ technology capable of up to 42Mbps.

The problem is that finding a definition of what 'counts' as 4G is tough. The International Telecommunication Union Radiocommunication Sector (we'll go with ITU-R if you don't mind) has ruled that a network's data rates must hit 100Mbps for high mobility access like cruising the web on the move, and 1Gbps for 'low mobility' like standing still and using your phone.

Neither LTE nor WiMax hit those lofty requirements, but the ITU has said these services and others count anyway if they're providing a "substantial level of improvement in performance and capabilities with respect to the initial third generation systems now deployed".

Eeesh! This 4G stuff is headache-inducing, and it looks like Apple will be playing on the fact that nobody really knows what counts as 4G to defend its new iPad.

Is Apple in the wrong, or in the right? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook wall. I'm off to lie down in a dark room for a while.