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March 28, 2012updated 22 Aug 2016 12:56pm

Apple slapped for false iPad advertising in Australia

Apple has offered to issue refunds to consumers who bought ‘the new iPad’, which cannot run on the country’s 4G LTE mobile phone network as advertised.

By Allan Swann

Ahead of an urgent hearing in Australian Federal Court today, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has accepted an undertaking from Apple that its ‘the new iPad’ (better known as the iPad 3) tablet computer misled consumers with its ‘Wi-Fi + 4G’ branding.

The iPad 3 utilises US and Canadian 4G LTE radio frequencies only, and is incompatible with most of the rest of the world, including Australia. The ACCC announced it was to begin legal proceedings yesterday.

Apple will now put in place a variety of measures before April 5th including displaying a statement that "This product supports very fast cellular networks. It is not compatible with current Australian 4G LTE networks and WiMAX Networks" in its promotional materials, on its website and online store. It must also display this signange to resellers at any point of sale for the product.

Most embarrassingly, it must contact by email any customers who purchased the "iPad with WiFI + 4G" between 16 March and 28 March 2012 (including pre-orders prior to 16 March 2012) and deliver the same statement.

Any customers are then entitled to return the product and request a refund.

Apple’s woes don’t end there though, it still has a further directions hearing on 16 April, with mediation to follow on 18 April. Finally, a hearing on liability (which may also include fines) has been set to commence on May 2nd.

Australia and New Zealand, by virtue of their timezone, were technically the first country to receive ‘The New iPad’ on March 16. Interestingly, ACCC told the court that it had outlined these concerns at the product launch, which Apple obviously ignored.

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The iPad’s 4G compatibility is limited to 4G LTE networks within the 700MHz and 2100Mhz frequencies, predominantly used in the US and Canada.

Australia’s only current ‘mature’ 4G LTE network is Telstra’s, which runs in the 1800MHz band.

The US and Canadian frequencies are also incompatible with all of Europe (and the proposed UK frequencies), which also caused controversy.

The UK is auctioning its 4G frequency sometime at year end, once Ofcom finalises the process. The frequencies available will be 800MHz and 2.6 GHz, similar to our European counterparts.

Everything Everywhere, owners of T-Mobile and Orange, have made an application to Ofcom to launch their own 4G network ahead of this auction, on its own 1800MHz spectrum. Ofcom has said yes, but is waiting for the consultation process to conclude, due early April.

No lawsuits along the Australian approach have been filed in the EU so far.

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