Sprint is Suing AT&T Over Its Misleading ‘5G E’ Label

What started out on some Android phones has now rolled over to some iPhones, and, as a result, Sprint is ready to throw down the gauntlet in front of AT&T.

AT&T is lying to customers. Misleading them to think that, in some markets, they have access to some kind of 5G wireless technology. The big blue carrier calls it “5G Evolution”, or “5G E” for short, and it is not 5G technology at all. However, AT&T doesn’t care about that because all it cares about is marketing, and getting ahead of the competition. It is not a secret that Verizon, T-Mobile, and even Sprint have their own plans for a mobile 5G wireless network. But if you look at the marketing, AT&T is already here with theirs!

Except that isn’t true, and Sprint has had enough. Engadget has the report on Friday, saying that Sprint is now suing AT&T for misleading its customers. Specifically, Sprint is suing AT&T for “false advertising” and “deceptive acts”, noting that some customers will believe they have access to a 5G network when, in reality, they do not. That’s because AT&T has made it so that phone manufacturers need to show “5G E” instead of “4G LTE” in some markets.

Those markets don’t support 5G network technology at all. In those spots, AT&T is rebranding its LTE Advanced and LTE Advanced Pro technologies as 5G Evolution. That means speeds are consistently around 40Mbps, which is great! However, that isn’t any different than what standard 4G LTE can offer. It is much slower than what an actual mobile 5G network will provide later.

“In its claim, Sprint said it commissioned a survey that found 54 percent of consumers believed the ‘5GE’ networks were the same as or better than 5G, and that 43 percent think if they buy an AT&T phone today it will be 5G capable, even though neither of those things are true. Sprint’s argument is that what AT&T is doing is damaging the reputation of 5G, while it works to build out what it calls a ‘legitimate early entry into the 5G network space.'”

What makes this even worse is that this isn’t the first time that AT&T has pulled this trick. Back when HSPA+ was a thing, AT&T went out of its way to brand that network technology “4G” — even though it wasn’t. That really came to a head when 3G-enabled iPhones –devices that didn’t even support 4G LTE technology– started showing a 4G logo instead of a 3G one for network connectivity. We saw history repeat itself when iOS 12.2 signaled the adoption of “5G E” on iPhones that don’t actually support any type of 5G networks at all.

For the record, Apple is likely to support 5G wireless technologies in 2020.

AT&T does have a mobile 5G network out there in the wild, with an expansion planned for the rest of 2019 and beyond. However, the only way to access that network is a mobile hotspot.

AT&T’s CEO should be ashamed for this nonsense, and instead of doubling down on the marketing gimmick and going out of his way to be happy that he’s misleading customers, this never should have happened. This is indeed false advertisement and deceptive acts, and hopefully the courts see it that way, too.

[via Engadget]