TECH
03/30/2011 08:47 pm ET | Updated May 30, 2011

AT&T May Not Be Ready For 4G

As wireless carriers roll out their so-called 4G networks across U.S., customers await the lightening fast speeds that all the glitzy ad campaigns have promised. But the reality may be a huge let-down for early adopters.

PCWorld recently found that some AT&T customers using Motorola's Atrix 4G on AT&T's 4G network were experiencing download speeds that were slower than 3G. The reason for this, Wired reports, is because AT&T had not yet enabled the Atrix to download at the speeds it was capable of.

AT&T "isn't ready to flip the switch to turn on '4G' networks, even though it's already selling 4G phones," Wired concludes.

"The concept of 4G is a joke now," Gartner Research VP Phil Redman told Wired. "At the highest level, it's supposed to be a technology standard, but it's nothing but marketing now. If and when 4G-standardized technology is actually decided upon and released, we've been inundated with this jargon for so long we may not even recognize it."

Indeed, carriers have flagrantly ignored the definition of "4G" when branding their new high-speed networks. Back in November, the AP reported that T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T were each touting their own "4G" networks, some of which didn't actually qualify as such, according to the International Telecommunications Union's standards. By December the ITU had altered its interpretation of "4G" to incorporate previously substandard technologies.

So before you splurge on that 4G handset you've been eyeing, know that it might not deliver the speeds you're hoping for.