This story has been corrected to cite the ITU, not the 3GPP, as the source of the changed definition for 4G services.
AT&T has joined T-Mobile USA in marketing its HSPA+ services as 4G as it works to convince consumers it has competitive mobile broadband services amid LTE and WiMAX rollouts from Verizon and Sprint.
AT&T used the term “4G” to refer to both HSPA+ and LTE in an announcement about its network deployment plans yesterday, and said it would launch 20 new “4G capable” devices this year.
John Stankey, president and CEO of AT&T’s business solutions, told attendees of an investment conference yesterday that the carrier’s marketing was justified by a recent decision from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) that loosened the definition of what constituted 4G services.
When asked about AT&T’s decision to call HSPA+ a 4G service, Stankey said the ITU now defined 4G as services that offer higher speeds than previous generations of technology, as opposed to service that belong to a specific technology family such as LTE.
“In that classification, HSPA+ and the faster speeds that it offers falls into the 4G category of their classification,” Stankey said. “That is our first foray into 4G capabilities.”
T-Mobile’s decision to market its HSPA+ services as 4G riled Sprint, Clearwire and Verizon, which have spent billions of dollars building out their respective WiMAX and LTE networks.