Sprint Calls out AT&T for Misleading 5GE Indicator in Full-Page NYT Ad

Sprint has taken out a full-page open letter ad in the Sunday’s edition of The New York Times calling out AT&T for its misleading “5GE” network indicator. With the iOS 12.2 beta update, iPhones on AT&T network have started showing the ‘5GE’ indicator instead of LTE. Some Galaxy phones will also receive a software update to make this change.

Despite the ‘5GE’ indicator, your iPhone will not have magically gained 5G capabilities with a software update. Instead, as per AT&T, the ‘5GE’ logo represents that you are in AT&T’s 5G Evolution market where it is able to offer higher and more stable LTE speeds. Yep, there’s no 5G here. AT&T is simply getting on the 5G bandwagon and purely misleading customers with this move.

Right now, this change is a part of iOS 12.2 beta but once the release goes public, more users will get confused seeing the 5GE logo in the status bar of their iPhone. No wonder then that Sprint has sued AT&T for this misleading marketing tactics. In its full-page NYT ad, Sprint says that while it is working hard on bringing 5G to its customers, AT&T is working hard on misleading its customers.

While Sprint is working hard to deliver mobile 5G and the first 5G smartphone in the U.S., AT&T is hard at work trying to convince you that they already won the race to 5G with something they call “5G Evolution.” That is simply untrue.

Don’t be fooled. 5G Evolution isn’t new or true 5G. It is fake 5G.

They would love for you to believe they are different … better. The truth is AT&T is simply offering customers a nationwide 4G LTE network just like Sprint and all the other major wireless carriers. It’s not 5G.

We filed a lawsuit against AT&T demanding that they immediately end their false and deceptive marketing campaign. AT&T seems to be delighted by the depth and breadth of their deception. AT&T admitted that the company’s 5G E advertising is strictly a narrative to outline how they want the world to work – not a reflection of today’s reality.

AT&T is working on bringing 5G to at least 12 U.S. cities this year but there are no smartphones in the market right now that can connect to it. So instead of highlighting that, AT&T decided to use deceptive marketing to fool its customers into thinking that they are already on its 5G network.

Sprint has already sued AT&T over this misleading campaign.

Our Take

While I can understand Android OEMs bending to the requirements of AT&T and allowing it to display a fake ‘5G’ indicator on their devices, I am shocked at how Apple could allow the carrier to do the same on iPhones. Apple has never allowed this before so it is definitely a strange move. It is possible that with the final release of iOS 12.2, this scenario changes and Apple removes the ‘5GE’ logo with something that is not so blatantly misleading.

Do you think AT&T is doing the right thing here by showing its Gigabit LTE network as ‘5GE’?

[Via Sprint]