GTA TeleGuam launches world's slowest 4G network

21 Jul 2011

Asia-Pac has a new 4G network – GTA TeleGuam announced the launch of its 4G network Thursday in selected high-traffic areas around the island of Guam.

Except by “4G” they mean “HSPA+”.

From the company’s FAQ on 4G:

4G in short stands for "Fourth Generation". 4G is the next evolutionary step for GTA's Wireless Network that will allow users to experience even FASTER wireless broadband speeds comparable to high speed DSL connections.

GTA Wireless has upgraded the software of its broadband network to 4G HSPA+ which stands for "High Speed Packet Access Plus". This unique upgrade combined with enhanced fiber backhaul at selected sites allows users to experience up to 3x faster data speeds than 3G.

With a 4G HSPA+ capable device a customer in 4G coverage will be able to reach theoretical peak downloads speeds of up to 14 Mbps and peak upload speeds of up to 5 Mbps. GTA Wireless 4G customers will experience average network download speeds of about 3-6 Mbps.

"4G" theoretical peak speeds of 14 Mbps may seem grimly comical to operators around the world who have actually launched LTE networks (or even HSPA+ networks with peak download speeds between 21-42 Mbps). Here in Hong Kong, 14 Mbps wouldn’t even qualify for an HSPA+ designation.

But this is nothing new. Plenty of operators have tossed around “4G” as a handy marketing slogan regardless of what generation of technology they were actually talking about.

To be completely fair to GTA TeleGuam, it’s very possibly America’s fault they decided to call HSPA+ “4G”, since AT&T and T-Mobile have been doing that for awhile. So have handset makers Motorola, HTC and Samsung – each of them provides HSPA+-compatible handsets for GTA TeleGuam as well as the US market, and all of them include “4G” in the name of the handset.

And of course, they could all probably blame the ITU for confusing everyone by first declaring what everyone thought was “5G” (i.e. LTE Advanced and Wimax 2) to be “4G”, only to backtrack and say that basically any technology “providing a substantial level of improvement in performance and capabilities” than 3G gets to be called “4G”.

So okay. I get that.

Still, remember that consumer survey last week about how a significant chunk of users in the US think they already have a 4G phone?

I’m thinking there may be a correlation here. I’m just saying.

Anyway, not to pick on GTA TeleGuam. It’s great that they have HSPA+, and it’s great that the demand for mobile broadband is there to justify it. But when they upgrade to LTE, they should probably call it 5G. You know, to keep from confusing everyone.

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