One TechCrunch Writer Apparently Reads OFB

By Tim Butler | Posted at 19:33

Update Below. I suppose, as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but still, imagine my surprise when I saw almost a direct quotation of what I wrote in an OFB story on 4G that appeared early this morning blended into a TechCrunch story on 4G posted by Rip Empson this evening (without any citation, mind you). Here are the key paragraphs from the two stories, mine on the left (emphasis on the particularly parallel parts is mine):

OFB: The Showdown

The first matter complicating the search for the perfect 4G service is that there is not one thing meant by the term 4G. Sprint (along with partner Clear) and Verizon come closest to adhering to the technical standard for 4G with their respective WiMAX and LTE networks. However, most people care more about speed than how that speed is achieved, which led first T-Mobile and then AT&T to start referring to their upgraded 3G networks as 4G as well.

TechCrunch: To 4G or Not to 4G?

While 4G is indeed meant to refer (in the big picture) to the fourth generation of cellular wireless standards (as the successor to 3G which arrived in the early 2000s, which succeeded 2G in the '90s, etc.), the answer to this question is complicated by the fact that each carrier seems to be defining 4G in the way that best suits them. Sprint (along with its partner Clear) and Verizon generally get closest to adhering to the technical specification for 4G with WiMAX and LTE, respectively. T-Mobile and AT&T, meanwhile, are stretching the definition to include their upgraded 3G networks, on the (arguably shady) basis that the speeds are faster than traditional 3G networks.
While it would be easy to fault the latter two companies for muddying the waters in their marketing, in fairness, their marketing actually makes some sense: while AT&T and T-Mobile both use what is technically a suped-up version of their existing 3G standard, HSPA, that technology can go as fast or faster than early 4G implementations. (AT&T is also preparing to launch its own LTE network in addition to its existing network it is presently calling 4G.)
To put it simply, there are essentially two meanings to 4G today: the technical one and the common one, the latter referring to cellular Internet technologies that can run at speeds competitive with DSL or cable Internet. Ultimately, that is what people generally want out of a 4G network and so, to some extent, the AT&T and T-Mobile are not that far off in their labeling.
So, it seems that there are really two meanings to 4G today: The technical one and the non-technical one. Essentially, the latter refers to cellular networks that offer web-connectivity speeds competitive with DSL or cable. In the end, that's what we want 4G to represent anyway — mobile speeds that are concurrent with our web surfing capabilities at home or in the office — which is why carriers have started using “network updgrade” synonymously with “4G”.

Obviously, nothing I wrote was terribly novel, but the parallels between those paragraphs goes way beyond two writers simply talking about the same subject on the same day. I've contacted TechCrunch for comment. I'll update this entry when and if I hear back.

Update: I talked with Rip Empson this evening. He apologized and reworked the beginning of his article to provide attribution to Open for Business. I really appreciated the speed at which he handled this. Thanks, Rip.


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