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March 27, 2012updated 22 Aug 2016 12:58pm

Apple’s misleading advertising bites in Australia

Apple has run into more trouble in Australia, as the nation’s competition authority takes ‘the new iPad’ maker to court over misleading claims about the device.

By Allan Swann

iPad 3 - Marketing scam?
Apple attempting to fool consumers? Or just too lazy to redo their marketing materials?

As CBR reported two weeks ago (click here), Apple’s ‘the new iPad’ (iPad 3) is being sold under a somewhat misleading advertising campaign. Althought it claims to be Apple’s first 4G compatible device, the radio frequencies it utilises to access 4G mobile coverage are only available in the US and Canada.

This means the iPad 3 is incompatible with all European 4G frequencies (including the UK’s proposed frequencies) and Australia’s.

This hasn’t stopped Apple cashing in on consumers’ ignorance, and it has continued to advertise the device as a 4G model in all international markets, compatible or not.

The Australian consumer watchdog, the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) will be making an application to the Federal Court in Melbourne at 9:30am tomorrow (Australian time), to take action against Apple for alleged breaches of Australian Consumer Law.

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 looking for redress that will include a potential injunction, fines, and forced corrective advertising. Interestingly, it will also be pursuing refunds to all consumers affected.

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The Americans and Canadians are operating their 4G predominantly in the 700MHz and 2100MHz spectrums, which Apple has limited itself to.

Australia’s only current ‘mature’ 4G LTE network is Telstra’s, which runs on 1800MHz. It is currently debating utilising 700MHz spectrum, currently occupied by Australian free-to-air TV until 2013.

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.

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