When you look at your bill for phone, wireless and Internet service every month, you can't help but feel a sense of impotent rage. The bill is always higher than what they advertised the plan for, they cram in endless mystery charges and deep down inside you know they're screwing you. And there's really nothing you can do about it.
Well, we have good news -- it's actually worse than that! Wait, did we say "good" news? Sorry.
The point is, many of the annoying things your cellphone provider does happen behind the scenes, and you'll never find it spelled out on your bill.
5"4G" is a Bullshit Marketing Term
It was just a few years ago that everyone started getting 3G phones that could actually surf the Internet at speeds faster than '90s-era dial-up. But even 3G is going out of style. That's right, times are changing, grandpa! Now everyone's all about 4G. It's in pretty much every ad now, and every cellphone provider says its version is the biggest and best.
But ... notice how they're not citing actual speeds there? As in, actual megabytes per second or anything else you could actually make sense of? It's almost like they're taking advantage of the fact that the average person has no freaking idea what 4G is ("Wow, you can really feel the 'G' in this phone!").
Via Michael Saechang
Suggested slogan: "We didn't give an 'F,' so here's another 'G'!"
Well, the good news is that 4G isn't just some bullshit term they made up -- it's actually an agreed-upon standard set by a group called the International Telecommunication Union, or ITU. Then cellphone companies promptly went about utterly disregarding that and calling their much slower service "4G" anyway.
See, the 4G standard the ITU established is fast as hell -- it was supposed to be an on-the-move (i.e., riding in a train/car/bus) data rate of 100MB per second. Standing still, you should get a data rate of 1,000MBps. That's freaking 20 to 200 times faster than the average broadband connection in the U.S.
Goddamn! Tell us where to line up!
Ah, not so fast. The "4G" plans that cellphone companies are plastering all over their ads are a fraction of that blazing-fast 4G standard. Verizon is currently capable of 32MBps maximum (though they only offer 12MBps to customers), and AT&T's is about the same (though that hasn't stopped them from trashing Verizon's identical technology). Sprint theoretically gives up to 10MBps, and T-Mobile can do up to 30MBps. Again, compare that to the between 100 and 1,000MBps we were supposed to get.
You can't mudsling if you're both covered in poop.
So why were these companies allowed to call that shit "4G" when it wasn't even 10 percent of the standard? Well, once they started using 4G as a marketing term, the ITU actually backed down and just said "Sure, fuck it, whatever" and retroactively applied the 4G moniker to the standards the carriers are actually using. Proving once again that if you say enough stupid shit, people will eventually give in just to shut you up.
"You're saying we at the ITU won't bend over and take it? Well you, sir, are about to get a surprise!"
So now they actually can say they're 4G and be telling the truth. It'd be like if McDonald's started making their Quarter Pounder half the size and convinced the rest of the world to change their definition of a pound.