The term 4G has been around in the news alot in scandinavia for a rather long time now. Mostly because of the Teliasonera network in Stockholm and the fights about the new wireless networks in Oslo. But lately it has more been dominated by the american networks.
However, the term 4G is already splitting off more than even broadband was doing at the start of mainstream internet connections. For now it has several common meanings:
4G has been the marketing name of the scandinavian 3G LTE networks (3G Long Term Evolution) whereas it will only at best (and in theory) lead to an actual 4G network in the end. The standards are actually just that - named to be the evolution towards 4G and not 4G itself. However TeliaSonera decided it was better to market something as fourth generation compared to third generation long time evolution. Makes sense from that perspective, really. But one could ask himself if that should not be considered false advertising.
In the US it's another provider - Nextel Sprint - branding the new WiMax wireless networks as 4G. This is an even further stretch from the truth as the technology used will not even in a best case scenario go towards what is really the 4G mobile network. It could very well live up to the same performance but is not the 3G route into 4G as 3G LTE actually is.
4th Generation device
Some people seem very confused with Iphone 3G(S) now that the Iphone 4G is at the door. The name comes from the same term as the wireless technology; third generation. But the Iphone is merely saying that it is the fourth generation of the iphone, even though the third generation of the iphone was unluckily the first one to get support for the third generation mobile networking.
The real definition of 4G falls way behind all of these meanings. Will the real 4G have to switch name to leave space for all the illusions, perhaps?