WiMax or LTE are not 4G, says ITU

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evo4gBack in April, I wrote an article presenting the argument that 4G does not exist. That article prompted a discussion in which those who disagreed with the facts I presented tried to push their position through. I argued that the bodies responsible for setting those standards have not set any 4G standards, so it is plain trickery to claim to be offering 4G services.

Well, the body responsible for setting the 4G standard, The International Telecommunication Union Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R), has finally ruled that both LTE and WiMAX do not qualify as 4G.

This means that those networks in the US, here in Nigeria and elsewhere running LTE and WiMAX but who claim to be offering 4G services from now on are not being truthful. I doubt that they will backpedal unless regulatory authorities call them to order.

Of course, this pronouncement by ITU also means that there are currently no 4G mobile devices, regardless of what some manufacturers claim.

Why Is This Important?
This pronouncement by the ITU is important because, should current LTE and WiMAX operators keep claiming 4G, operators who later invest in and deploy real 4G technologies will be at a disadvantage because impostors have been claiming to offer the same thing before them. The branding edge would be lost.

Those offering LTE and WiMAX now can accurately claim 3.75G or even 3.9G if they care to. But to claim 4G now is to thrive on science fiction.

Here at Mobility Nigeria, we pride ourselves in telling it as it is – there are currently no operators offering commercial 4G services. Simple.

Reference Materials

  1. 4G defined: WiMax and LTE don’t qualify
  2. WiMax or LTE are not 4G – ITU-R hits out at wrong acronyms


  1. Similar situation to mtn calling their network and glo calling theirs 3g. Pure semantics. Call anything whatever. The important thing to me is the speed.

    My Layman’s thinking..

  2. I had a discussion about 3G with a guy ealier today and he said ‘I dont know what 3G is but I noticed that each time I see 3G on my BB my downloads are faster’. This is what matters most to people.
    It amazes me how providers worldwide have decided to abuse the use of 4G, what they all have is just above 3.5G but not 4G.
    Anyway, I currently have 3.5G on my MTN.

  3. oh yeah this is what happens when money making overtakes techinical sincerity
    all brands all over the world are guilty

  4. Here we go again. I can remember the article written earlier. And what this means now is that as long as the regulatory body has not endorsed any Technology as 4G then it cannot be 4G. I think that is insane! Why is this G-allocating body (International Telecommunication Union Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R)) still resting on their oars while the very network providers are going into LTE and WIMAX on their own? Driving the Technology. ISn’t it time that we move on? It is clear that the current mobile internet speeds aren’t good enough otherwise carieers would not be touting 4G as a way of advert.

    SO before they endorse a Technology Cariiers should just call their Technology Better-but-not-3G! Please!! ITU-R needs to seat up. They should drive innovation and not stifle it! They better adopt a 4G Technology and FAST!!

    1. And what this means now is that as long as the regulatory body has not endorsed any Technology as 4G then it cannot be 4G….

      They better adopt a 4G Technology and FAST!!

      And here we go again with you jumping into the argument without digesting the presented facts.

      The 4G standard has been defined by the ITU-R, and LTE and WiMAX are not classified as 4G. Please read the article and included links again.

  5. I agree with Yomi on this issue and thumbs up to mobility nigeria for giving us the heads up. Truth is these mobile networks are culpable, because they know the amount of tests, meetings and consultations that need to happen before a new standard is usually adopted; i can still remember the amount of hoopla that accompanied 3g. All we have is still 3rd generation mobile and i think we should just enjoy the increased speed and forget the names because 4th generation mobile is still a long way away.

  6. A lone voice in the wilderness still disagreeing. That’s me. The truth about all this stuff is that Wimax and LTE are not the same Technology as the present 3G. A phone with 3G Technology cannot work in a “4G” (LTE/WIMAX) network. It shows something, Doesn’t it?!

    I’d need to quote from the two links in the article; “Neither of the real 4G standards have been ratified yet…” SO, What is the meaning of “Real 4G Standards” here?

    In the US, from the article, Clearwire networks has this to say; “For WiMax operator Clearwire, the 4G label denotes advancement beyond 3G networks,” and “WiMax, and the LTE products that are coming out, are all sufficiently advanced past the 3G networks to indicate that they’re moving forward.”

    Even if LTE and WIMAX isn’t 4G because of standardization, It is also definitely not 3G!!

  7. The truth about all this stuff is that Wimax and LTE are not the same Technology as the present 3G. A phone with 3G Technology cannot work in a “4G” (LTE/WIMAX) network.

    Even if LTE and WIMAX isn’t 4G because of standardization, It is also definitely not 3G!!

    As I have said earlier, you do not understand the technicalities of backend technology, yet are so emphatic with your statements. You seem to have a misconception of what 3G is. You clearly do not know what 4G is. But I’ll let it go. Still, you should read more about backend technology if you want to discuss about it.

    Here’s some update though, the ITU has soft-pedalled on this subject. Under the old definition, only WiMax2 and LTE-Advanced were qualified as 4G networks.

    From the ITU press release:

    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. The detailed specifications of the IMT-Advanced technologies will be provided in a new ITU-R Recommendation expected in early 2012.

    In other words, though LTE and WiMax are not defined as 4G, they may be so marketed. Looks like the ITU bowed to the superior influence of the marketing powers of some operators.


  8. the ITU has reversed itself on this. wimax and LTE are 4G. nice to see Swift, Mobitel Direc-on-PC deploying mobile wimax, but the pricing and data capping is absurd.

  9. Actually, the ITU established the necessary standards for 4G a couple of years ago. They are:

    Must be capable of 1Gbit/s when standing still.

    Must be capable of 100Mbit/s when moving at high speeds.

    The LTE Advanced platform (awaiting approval to become the standard for 4G networks, expected to be approved some time in 2011) is capable of both of these. And current LTE devices are compatible are will be, according to the ITU and manufactures, “forward” compatible with LTE Advanced.

    And actually, the ITU has stated that current LTE networks could be considered 4G so long as the are a significant leap forward in bandwidth capabilities, among other things, over current 3G CDMA and LTE networks, even if they do not achieve the 1Gbit/s and 100Mbit/s speeds, however, they would not endorse those networks.

    Many in the industry consider the current LTE networks that are rolling out to be somewhere between 3.5 and 3.9G.

    Maybe the authors on this site should learn how to do proper research before making claims.

  10. “Did you read the original article and the following discussions at all before posting your comment, or is it just that you have difficulty with English?”
    Yomi, that was rather harsh.

    Everyone have their opinion, no matter how varied. If you check this link; http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2374564,00.asp, And as you have rightfully noted earlier, it appears the ITU HAS changed their mind over 4G after all!

    As I’ve always maintained, even if the recent LTE/WIMAX us not 4G, they are still not the same Technology with the existing 3G Technology.

    It is really good that the Regulating body change their mind. It is about time.

    1. Afewgoodmen,

      Everyone have their opinion, no matter how varied.

      You know I don’t have a problem with people having an opinion in matters of opinion. The question is, what exactly has TZc said in his comment that has not been said in the article and during the discussions that followed? What errors or false claims did he correct that merited his saying, “Maybe the authors on this site should learn how to do proper research before making claims“?

  11. Yomi, I see your point. I did not look at those last words well,”maybe…” I think I agree with you completely!

  12. No one is saying that they know more than the “international regulators”. but what is apparent is that these “International regulators” have been slow in decideing if LTE/WIMAX were 4G. does it surprise you that this same body has made a round about turn following pressure from
    Network cariiers that LTE is now 4G?
    See; http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2374564,00.asp.

    1. Afewgoodmen,

      The article that you link to merely corroborates what I have stood by: that ITU had defined 4G and that definition excluded LTE and WiMax. The ITU’s defined 4G technologies are still undergoings tests and are not expected to deploy commercially until 2012. But, against the might of certain powerful American operators who chose to violate the ITU’s definition, the ITU later redefined 4G to accomodate those operators and their LTE/WiMax networks.

      Did I read your linked article wrongly? Insn’t this what I have been saying and that you have been disagreeing with? How was the ITU slow in defining something that they already defined?

  13. The ITU stands by its official definition of 4G speeds, LTE Release 10 and WiMAX 2, which are being tested and not expected to deploy commercially until 2012. But it’s likely that the UN subsidiary just grew weary of re-educating consumers with its stringent definition.
    yomi, you beat me to it-i was going to post this paragraph.I stand with you on this.
    No basis for extended arguements.Untill 2012 ITU can keep getting pressured and confused

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