Apple’s promotion of its new iPad has landed the company in hot water in Australia, where a government competition regulator has said it will take action against the Cupertino-based technology giant for “misleading” consumers over the tablets ability to connect to a 4G mobile data network.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) takes issue with the product “iPad with WiFi + 4G” because it “represents to Australian consumers that the product, with a SIM card, [can] connect to a 4G mobile data network in Australia, when this is not the case.”
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As a result, the ACCC will seek “urgent interlocutory relief to ensure consumers are made aware of the correct technical capabilities of this device,” the commission said today.
Apple has seen operators outside of North America restrict the advertisement of the 4G iPad, fearing that the branding would confuse and frustrate customers. Whilst the tablet is able to connect to 3G networks worldwide, it is only compatible with the 4G frequencies used by AT&T and Verizon in the US.
The company soon recognised it would invite responses from regulators, adding a caveat to the 4G iPad listing on its official website. It now reads:
The iPad with Wi-Fi + 4G model can roam worldwide on fast GSM/UMTS networks, including HSPA, HSPA+, and DC-HSDPA. When you travel internationally, you can use a micro-SIM card from a local carrier. You can also connect to the 4G LTE networks of AT&T in the U.S. and Bell, Rogers, and Telus in Canada.
Australian operators Telstra and Optus have already begun scaling back their 4G branding. Optus is said to remove the term altogether, whilst Telstra said: “We’re making it clear to our customers that new iPad does not run on 4G LTE networks in Australia.”
The competition regulator said it will seek injunctions, penalties, corrective advertising and refunds to consumers who were misled, and will file an application in Federal Court in Melbourne tomorrow morning.