Get Garcia: The 4G Fake Out

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Consumer Watchdog of Santa Monica on Thursday will file a complaint against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) accusing the entity and cell phone carriers of “misleading the public” about the speed of so-called 4G wireless service.

The Get Garcia team, which tried to crack the 4G code in July, obtained an advance copy of a complaint filed against Federal Communications Commission. The document has not been released to the public yet, but you can read it here.

“We want the FCC to order the cell phone companies to disclose the actual true speeds on their marketing and websites and retail stories so people can understand and compare,” said Harvey Rosenfield, the attorney who filed the complaint.

Cell phone carriers advertise their 4G service under different names such as HSPA+, LTE or WiMax. But is one faster than the other and, if it is, by how much?

“All the mobile companies are advertising their service as 4G,” Rosenfield said.

They say their service is “three times faster, 10 times faster, but faster than what?” he asks.

The Get Garcia team first went to Rosenfield shortly after the United Nations agency in charge of setting international standards for wireless communications loosened the rules for 4G. The International Telecommunication Union confirmed to NBCLA that “the term 4G remains undefined.”

“Now 4G means nothing,” Rosenfield said.

The ITU does require 4G service providers a “substantial level of improvement in performance” over 3G. But that is not enough says the Consumer Watchdog, which is filing a complaint with the FCC to require carriers to reveal their data speeds for every city in which they provide service.

The complaint asks for a lot of changes and the major service carriers have yet to comment on the proposed reforms. CTIA, the International Association for the Wireless Telecommunications Industry did not return calls for comment.

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