Sprint sues AT&T for lying to consumers with fake 5GE branding

Sprint files lawsuit against AT&T over its misleading 5G Evolution logo

There are countless ways for AT&T to share the message that they are delivering an upgraded 4G LTE experience to customers that do not involve telling them their phone now connects in some way to 5G.

Sprint filed a federal lawsuit against AT&T on Thursday, claiming the telecom carrier is practicing a misleading marketing campaign around the fifth generation of mobile technology, or 5G.

Even though the roll out of 5G smartphones hasn't begun, AT&T has made a decision to replace the 4G icon on select devices with a 5G E symbol in areas with support for AT&T's fastest LTE technologies. "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'". AT&T has simply added some technology that can potentially deliver speeds slightly faster than LTE. Carriers that are perceived to offer more advanced technology then stand to gain a "significant competitive advantage" over other companies.

The lawsuit came after Apple's popular iPhone on AT&T's network started showing the "5GE" label this week, even though Apple doesn't make a 5G compatible phone and isn't even expected to be offering one until 2020.

AT&T introduced the 5GE brand two years ago but without much fanfare.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson told CNBC that the company feels "very comfortable" about how it characterizes the service. The suit called for an immediate cessation of the branding by AT&T and seeks damages for undermining Sprint's efforts to bring true 5G service to the market. The network operator filed a lawsuit in federal court with the sole goal of preventing AT&T from using the 5G Evolution logo on its devices or any advertising materials.

Sprint files lawsuit against AT&T over its misleading 5G Evolution logo

AT&T renamed a large portion of its 4G network, calling it "5G E", for "5G Evolution".

"Sprint will have to reconcile its arguments to the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] that it can not deploy a widespread 5G network without T-Mobile while simultaneously claiming in this suit to be launching 'legitimate 5G technology imminently'".

At the moment, the ITU defines "5G" as something distinct from LTE.

AT&T said it "will fight this lawsuit while continuing to deploy 5G Evolution in addition to standards-based mobile 5G", and that "customers want and deserve to know when they are getting better speeds".

AT&T is lying to customers. "5G E" means "5G Evolution". It's 100% misleading garbage, that AT&T is fully aware of.

According to Sprint, a survey showed that 54% of consumers believe that the "5G E" network is the same or even better than a real 5G network. AT&T is just like Sprint and all the other major wireless carriers now operating a nationwide 4G LTE network. "AT&T's "5G E" network is a 4G LTE Advanced network, just like the networks of Sprint and the other major wireless service providers, none of which are mischaracterizing their 4G LTE Advanced networks as 5G". AT&T offers standards-based 5G in parts of 12 cities, but its first 5G device for sale is a mobile hotspot rather than a phone.

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