Sprint is suing AT&T for misleading consumers with "5G E" branding

Screenshot from an AT&T commercial showing text that reads

Sprint has filed a lawsuit against competitor AT&T over the latter's use of "5G E" branding on certain phones. AT&T's LTE-A tech may be capable of near gigabit speeds, but 5G it most certainly is not.

Sprint will seek a temporary restraining order against AT&T to cease the 5GE commercials and labeling as soon as possible, a lawyer for the company said. AT&T has simply added some technology that can potentially deliver speeds slightly faster than LTE.

Sprint says in the lawsuit that competition within the wireless industry, specifically between the big four carriers, is fierce, and since most people in the United States have mobile phones, carriers these days typically acquire new customers by pulling them away from competitors. Another 43% of consumers believe that if they buy an AT&T smartphone today, they will have a 5G network.

AT&T's decision to label some of its most advanced 4G LTE mobile network as "5G Evolution" has drawn scorn from rivals and some analysts who claim the carrier is misleading consumers about the real arrival date of faster fifth-generation technology called "5G".

"AT&T is so anxious about how limited their 5G footprint will be that they've renamed their existing LTE network '5G Evolution" said the firm's Neville Ray. "It harms consumers by holding out AT&T's services as more technologically advanced than Sprint's and enticing consumers to switch wireless service providers (or remain AT&T subscribers) under false pretenses".

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AT&T has employed numerous deceptive tactics to mislead consumers into believing that it now offers a coveted and highly anticipated fifth-generation wireless network, known as 5G. There is the outright lie involved in suggesting something is 5G when it isn't and then there's the damage done to Sprint competitively and the outright damage done to the USA telecoms market by deceiving it into thinking 5G is already here. It is not a secret that Verizon, T-Mobile, and even Sprint have their own plans for a mobile 5G wireless network. "We understand why our competitors don't like what we are doing, but our customers love it", AT&T said in a statement, describing its 5GE network as "an evolutionary step to standards-based 5G".

T-Mobile also hit out at the firm, accusing it of "duping customers" with the move. The "5GE" icon, which stands for "5G Evolution", and is showing up on some phones in select areas of coverage is not in fact 5G at all.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson defended the "5G E" branding in a TV interview Friday.

"We introduced 5G Evolution more than two years ago, clearly defining it as an evolutionary step to standards-based 5G", AT&T said. In 2010 and 2011, first T-Mobile, then AT&T started calling the 3G HSPA+ technology "4G" for marketing reasons; eventually the ITU, the global body which decides these things, rolled over and declared that to be fine. It's 100% misleading garbage, that AT&T is fully aware of.

Sprint commissioned a survey and found that 54 percent of consumers mistakenly believe AT&T's "5G E" is "the same as or better than a 5G network". "Customers want and deserve to know when they are getting better speeds", AT&T said in response to the lawsuit.

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