The Unofficial Apple Weblog has reported that 33% of iPhone owners think their phones already have 4G service. This is of course not the the case. The reality is today's iPhones run on a "3G" network. The stat came from a survey conducted by Retrevo.
There is confusion as to why this is the case. Perhaps it's the "4" in iPhone 4 brand name? Perhaps consumers just assume that they are running on the latest wireless technology? Most likely, it's the confusion around the naming conventions, and ambiguity as to what 4G actually is?
4G is a term used in the industry to describe LTE or UMB wireless networks. Perhaps this is used to try and simplify things for the consumer, 4G is a lot easier to remember than "3GPP Long Term Evolution" after all. Either way, consumers seem to be confused as to what it all really means. That is quite understandable, this is complicated, technical stuff.
Included throughout this article there are links to web pages explaining the technologies. I suppose it's up to the wireless industry as a whole to come up with a way to explain this all to customers. Maybe when 3G networks finally do phase out, we will all just progress to 4G? At that point, we will all need to figure out how to explain what 5G means!