T-Mobile, Sprint Sow Confusion Over "4G"

Get ready for a confusing new war of words in the cellphone business.
While many American consumers are still scratching their heads over what exactly to make of current 3G mobile technology, carriers are already aggressively rolling out claims of faster, next-generation service on networks they’re spending billions of dollars to upgrade.

The new buzzword is 4G—for fourth generation—and the implication is super fast speeds that make it a snap to watch streaming videos or download big data files on the go.

The catch is the carriers disagree about what counts as 4G. And the one organization that sets anything like an official definition has come up with a surprising conclusion: None of them deliver speeds that qualify.

T-Mobile USA is the latest to jump into the fray, boasting in ads that started running Tuesday that it owns “America’s largest 4G network”—the same one it advertised in March as the country’s fastest 3G network.

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