Apple fined in Australia over 4G iPad claims

Apple has been fined AUS$2.25m for deliberately misleading Australian consumers over the 4G status of its third-gen iPad. Action was brought against the tablet manufacturer by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) after consumers complained that they had bought the device on the understanding that it was compatible with Telstra’s LTE networks, only later to discover that it was not.

Justice Bromberg said that the fine was imposed as, “the conduct concerned was deliberate and very serious. It exposed a significant proportion of Australian consumers of tablet devices to a misleading representation.”

Apple released its latest iPad in Australia on March 10, 2012, but according to Justice Bromberg had been told that it was not compatible with Telstra’s LTE network on 8 March. However, it preferred to keep its global marketing message consistent, which dubbed the tablet as the iPad + 4G.

“In that context, and in the absence of any other explanation, the facts to which I have just referred, suggest that Apple’s desire for global uniformity was given a greater priority than the need to ensure compliance with the Australian consumer law,” Justice Bromberg said in a statement.

Apple said that as carriers were not consistent with how they referred to their high speed networks it would now use WiFi + Cellular to describe the SIM equipped iPad.

The new iPad supports LTE at 700MHz and 2100MHz, making it compatible with LTE in the US and Canada and also supports HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA. Both this and LTE are dubbed as 4G in the US market.

On its UK site Apple no long makes reference to 4G in the main text after concerns were raised by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority.  At the Future Entertainment Summit 2012 event in London yesterday, UK communications minister Ed Vaizey said the it was the UK telco’s litigiousness that were the reason behind the countries delayed roll out of LTE, which will not be in place until the end of 2013. Conversely, LTE has been rolled out in countries such as Norway, Sweden and Germany, while O2 yesterday launched LTE services in the Czech Republic.

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