I agree with you that none of the networks that claim 4g are 4g but a faster 3g and that Verizon LTE probably has the fastest 3g(4g)network. None of the carriers meet the specs of a true 4g network and I believe Verizon might be the closest in meeting those specs with their LTE network, But that's not saying much because they all have ways to go to reach true 4g.
I currently use the iPhone 4 on a HSPA+ network here in Canada because HSPA+ is not 4G no matter how some carriers in the USA try to fool the public with their advertising. HSPA+ is called 3.5G in every other country such as Canada since the rest of the world follows the GSM standards set during the annual GSM World conference each global telecom carrier attends. AT&T most likely feel they are losing market share with carriers such as Verizon and Clear who launched 4G which is either LTE (Verizon) or WiMax (Clear).
Here is how it evolved in Canada and other countries who run GSM networks "GPRS / EDGE (2G) / EDGE+ (2.75G) / HSPA (3G 3.2 Mbps) / HSPA+ (3.5G 7.2 Mbps or higher to maximum 84 Mbps). Here in Canada our HSPA+ (3.5G) network was upgraded from 7.2 Mbps to run at 21 Mbps. LTE (4G) roll out in Canada which can support up to 1 Gbps (Gigabits per second) is expected this summer dependent on manufacturers of cellphones and USB modems.
To get a deeper understanding of the differences between HSPA, HSPA+ and LTE I've provided some links below for you and other readers here to read. To much confusion has been caused by AT&T's mixed message regarding what their network really provides. It's to bad the FCC in the USA doesn't have the same power that the CRTC does here in Canada to ensure standards are complied with by all telecoms in the country.
As for my current iPhone 4 running at it's maximum speed of 7.2 Mbps on our HSPA+ 3.5G network in Canada I'm happy with Apple's design. I'll upgrade to the next model when Apple provides an iPhone that supports LTE with speeds higher than 21 Mbps and is backwards compatible with HSPA+, HSPA and EDGE. Qualcom is the only modem chipset manufacturer I know that Rogers and other carriers here are testing that is backwards compatible.
LTE http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3GPPLong_TermEvolution (look at the bottom page Mobile Telephony Standards)
GSM World technology info: http://gsmworld.com/
Agree. T-Mobile was the first to falsely advertise to Americans that their HSPA+ network is 4G when it clearly isn't since they have yet to deploy LTE (4G) across their network. Surprised no one in the USA hasn't sued T-Mobile and AT&T for false advertising.
On a related note to LTE development I confirmed here in Canada Rogers currently has reached 70 Mbps with their LTE testing and are working to provide over 100 Mbps. The speeds they are providing over LTE is faster than most cable/fibre home internet connections. As well when launched it will be great both for Canadians as well our friendly neighbours to the south (USA) who enjoy crossing our boarder to enjoy real beer.
CHICAGO — 4G World — Everyone knows that AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is planning to move to Long Term Evolution (LTE) later this year, but is the operator also planning a further upgrade of its 3G network in 2011.
In his keynote here, David Haight, VP of business development at AT&T’s Emerging Devices Organization, said that if users roam off LTE, they would go to faster 3G in 2011. “The good news is that you’re going to fall back to HSPA+, so you’re falling back to 14.4 megabits, not 7.2 or 3.6,” Haight told the crowd. (See 4G World: AT&T Learns Lessons From iPad.)
So far, AT&T has only said that it will deploy the earlier 14.4Mbit/s upgrade by the end of 2010, revealing nothing about a 21Mbit/s upgrade in 2011. So we asked AT&T what the official word on this was.
“HSPA+ technology has a theoretical maximum speed of 21Mbps,” a spokeswoman said, in an email reply to questions. “WE HAVE NOT BEGUN DEPLOYING THE TECHNOLOGY AT THIS TIME”,she said that ONLY last October – then now magically they are 4G (See AT&T Plots Widescale HSPA+ Rollout .)
Nonetheless, if AT&T is interested in keeping up with GSM rival T-Mobile then HSPA+ is a logical progression. T-Mobile is currently rolling out a 21Mbit/s upgrade for over 100 cities now; it currently has the speed boost running in 100+ cities in the US. They proud of announcing every city that they lit up for 21 hspa+ but AT&T cannot do that because they are just putting 7.2 & 14.4...
The average download speeds offered on 21Mbit/s HSPA+ are in the 5 to 8 Mbit/s range, but we seen Max. of 12.5Mbps in Samsung Galaxy S 4G in some city with 3Mbps upload. (See T-Mobile’s HSPA+ Rivals Clearwire, US LTE Speeds.)
When we are in Austin,Texas for ANDROID FESTIVAL, TMobile executives said that 42Mbps hspa+ will be available by last week of MARCH or 1st week of APRIL - 2011 then AT&T will start to deploy 21Mbps hspa+ that time... LATE IN THE GAME
I called a friend who is engineer in AT&T MOBILITY DEPT. (15 years) & he said to me that THEY STILL USE THE 7.2Mbps & SOME city with 14.4Mbps HSPA, NOT YET THE 21 HSPA+ (maybe they will start last week of February or 1st week of March, he said in SOME CITIES NOT 100+ LIKE TMOBILE) So the hspa that AT&T saying that will cover more is the 7.2 & 14.4 NOT THE 21 HSPA+...
BEST LIAR OF ALL TIME & ALWAYS CRYING – AT&T…
Interestingly, I just ran a side by side comparison of my iPad (Bell) and iPhone 4 (Rogers) to see what speeds I am getting today. I ran the tests from my home - not a very good Rogers signal at the best of times - "searching" much of the time.
Both Rogers and Bell advertise HSPA+ support for my city.
With both tests running at the same time with the devices just a couple of inches apart the Bell signal was 3 bars while the Rogers signal was a single bar.
On two speed tests to the same same host the results were:
iPhone (Rogers) - 1 Mbps
iPad (Bell) - 5.4 Mbps
Not to place too much burden on Rogers, I often find my iPhone speed averages around 3.5 Mbps while my iPad also seems to average around the same speed.
Speed tests on both devices are often in the mid-20 Mbps using my Shaw home connection through an Apple Airport.
So, HSPA+ (3.5G) does work with these Apple devices quite nicely. I am not sure how T-Mobile can make claims about these devices not being 4G using their definition.
As has been presented in this thread, current iPhones are NOT HSPA+ compatible.
They GSM model is HSDPA/HSUPA compatible and where available this can provide speeds up to 7.2mbps
Your home connection is WiFi and has nothing to do with this.
i'd just like to ask and its more aimed towards any moblie tech engineer guys. do you need to have a new chip to pick up 4g or can it just be a software update? is the hardware realy limited to 3g speed or is just locked?. i know by fact that some tech that comes out say that you need this and need that but infact you dont its just money makeing scheme.(apple is a extremly big playing in that)
After the 5.1 update the 4S apparently is now a 4G phone. Just saw it this morning in Baltimore where AT&T has very good coverage and has rolled out their 4G network. I ran the Speedtest app and saw the fastest download speed that I've ever seen on the cell network. I don't know that this proves anything but it is nice. My wife's iPhone 4 which has also been updated to 5.1 is only showing the 3G symbol so I guess it is not capable. of 4G.