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Apple offering iPad 4G refunds in Australia

Apple is offering refunds for the 4G variation of its third-generation iPad in Australia after a consumer group accused the tech giant of misleading consumers there.

The new iPad's 4G variant doesn't run on Australia's 4G LTE network, despite being sold as the "iPad Wi-Fi + 4G" in that country, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. The 4G iPad runs on the 4G LTE networks of AT&T and Verizon in the U.S., and LTE networks in Canada. But in Australia, the iPad Wi-Fi + 4G runs only on 3G networks.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has filed a complaint about the mixup in a Melbourne federal court, arguing that Apple is misleading Australian consumers, and in response Apple is issuing voluntary refunds for the 4G iPads, the Herald said.

So why does the new iPad work with North American 4G LTE, but not Australian LTE? The LTE network run by Telstra, Australia's largest telecommunications company, runs on frequencies in the 1,800-megahertz band, while the 4G iPad hardware is compatible only with LTE networks that run in the 700-megahertz and 2100-megahertz bands.

The difference between 3G and 4G networks is speed. LTE networks promise speeds as much as 10 times faster than 3G service. In many European markets, Apple's new iPad is incompatible with 4G LTE networks there as well, though consumer groups have yet to complain as much as in Australia, according to an InformationWeek report.

The Swedish Consumer Agency is considering launching an investigation into whether or not Apple has been misleading in its marketing of the iPad Wi-Fi + 4G tablet, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Apple has also said that it will post signage near iPads specifying that the 4G iPad does not run on Australia's 4G LTE network, as well as send an email to Australians explaining the new tablet's wireless limitations, the Herald said.

Officials at the Cupertino iPad-maker were not available to comment on the Australian dust-up Wednesday morning.

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