Verizon Promises It Won't Lie About 5G, Unlike AT&T's '5G E'

AT&T 5GE phone branding

USA telecommunications giant AT&T has been criticized by its rivals for misleading consumers into believing that its upgraded 4G service is 5G.

All four major wireless carriers in the US are gearing up to launch the first nationwide 5G network, but phones capable of connecting to 5G won't be available for another few months.

Verizon further called on the entire wireless industry to "commit to labeling something 5G only if new device hardware is connecting to the network using new radio technology..."

Verizon spokesman Kevin King said comparing Verizon's 5G service to AT&T's move is a mistake because Verizon has been clear that it wasn't using standards-compliant equipment right away. Having 5G E simply means the phone is in a market or area with "enhanced experience".

AT&T is upgrading its LTE networks as a foundation for a nationwide mobile 5G launch with the expansion of its "5G Evolution" technology in more than 400 US markets, according to an announcement.

"AT&T is blatantly misleading consumers - 5GE is not real 5G", Sprint's chief technology officer Dr. John Saw told Engadget. Instead, you will still be using 4G LTE service, but with a mix of technologies (4×4 MIMO antennas, 256 QAM and carrier aggregation) that could potentially provide faster speeds. The carrier is calling the combination "5G Evolution".

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The advertising and marketing applications for 5G will be numerous, especially with the improvement in video download speeds that reduce the possibility that mobile users will get frustrated with slow service.

Verizon has promised to only label products "5G" if the device is actually delivering improved performance equal to 5G capabilities. The 5G network initially went live in parts of 12 cities, and is expected to launch in another seven cities in the first half of 2019. At the time, T-Mobile made a decision to call its 3G service, which ran on an upgraded technology called HSPA+, 4G.

AT&T said that, by the end of this year, it expects its network capacity to increase by 50% since 2017.

Still, Verizon's 5G home Internet seems like a real upgrade over Verizon 4G; Verizon's early 5G uses 28GHz spectrum instead of the low-band spectrum used for 4G, and Verizon says its 5G home Internet can hit speeds of almost 1Gbps.

"Every company is guilty of building a narrative of how you want the world to work, and I love the fact that we broke our industry's narrative two days ago, and so they're frustrated and they're going to do what they do", Donovan said.

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