Apple Defends iPad '4G' Branding In Australia

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About three weeks after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission claimed that Apple's new iPad was falsely advertised as being 4G-compatible, Apple is saying that it never misled Australian customers about the tablet's Wi-Fi capabilities.

Apple Insider reported Friday that the Cupertino, Calif.-based company denies having deceptively branded its new iPad as being compatible with Australian "WiFi + 4G" networks. Apple filed a defense in Australia's Federal Court suggesting that it is Australia's wireless networks -- not the new iPad -- that are mislabeled.

According to the report, Apple is arguing that Australia's existing 3G networks from Telstra, Optus and Vodafone can be called "4G networks in accordance with the accepted industry and regulatory use of the descriptor '4G.' " In other words, while the new iPad may not technically be compatible with Australia's 4G networks, the country's 3G networks are fast enough to constitute being 4G.

[Related: New iPad Wins Consumer Reports' Love Despite High Temps]

Apple Insider said that the third-generation iPad uses either 700MHz or 2,100MHz frequencies to connect with 4G networks. Australian telco operators Telstra, Optus and Vodafone rely on the 2,100MHz band but market it as 3G.

Apple claims its messaging was clear from the start that the new iPad would not be compatible with what Telstra defines as "4G."

"There was at all material times information widely published in Australia which informed consumers that the iPad with WiFi + 4G was not compatible with Telstra's 4G LTE network," the company said.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission first accused Apple of deceptive branding in late March, a move that prompted the company to offer refunds to any dissatisfied Australian customers that had purchased the new tablet. Apple also was asked to post a disclaimer in its Australian retail stores and Web sites stating, "This product supports very fast cellular networks. It is not compatible with current Australian 4G LTE networks and Wi-Max networks."

Apple and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission are expected to resolve the dispute in a full court hearing scheduled for May.

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