In what is likely a vindication moment for the T-Mobile, the ITU has recognized that HSPA+ will be considered a 4G network amongst its LTE and Wimax peers. T-Mobile had argued that Verizon and Sprint really didn’t offer a true 4G network and built a marketing campaign around their own “4G” network. This decision certainly turns the tablets on the entire argument and perhaps we can now drop the quotation marks every time we use “4G” when referring to T-Mobile. So how did we get here? The ITU or International Telecommunications Union stated after a December 6th meeting that “It is recognized that [4G], while undefined, may also be applied to the forerunners of these technologies, LTE and WiMax, and to other evolved 3G technologies providing a substantial level of improvement in performance and capabilities with respect to the initial third generation systems now deployed.”
More to the point it was stated: Following a detailed evaluation against stringent technical and operational criteria, ITU has determined that “LTE-Advanced” and “WirelessMAN-Advanced” should be accorded the official designation of IMT-Advanced. As the most advanced technologies currently defined for global wireless mobile broadband communications, IMT-Advanced is considered as “4G”, although it is recognized that this term, while undefined, may also be applied to the forerunners of these technologies, LTE and WiMax, and to other evolved 3G technologies providing a substantial level of improvement in performance and capabilities with respect to the initial third generation systems now deployed.
T-Mobile will likely further step up the argument that it offers 4G performance as well as press the attack against AT&T and Sprint. We’ve seen T-Mobile define “4G” using their own methodology but their argument was predicated on the earlier ITU decision that Wimax and LTE were not 4G networks. This could very well be a huge pickup for the T-Mobile marketing campaign. Now they can fight the battle where it really needs to be fought, on the speed front, an area where T-Mobile is definitely ready to continue to fight. This will be one to watch.