Friday, 22 February, 2019

Sprint Sues AT&T Over '5G E' Branding

AT&T's new 5GE label Sprint files lawsuit against AT&T over its misleading 5G Evolution logo
Troy Mann | 12 February, 2019, 08:11

The federal suit, filed in the U.S. District Court of NY, wants AT&T to remove its "5Ge" logo from both marketing and its phones.

Advanced wireless 5G technology has hit the courthouse ahead of its journey to consumers' cellphones as Sprint has charged rival AT&T with misleading customers about its current offering.

It is understood that when users use the latest smartphone to connect to AT&T's 4G LTE network (such as support 4×4 MIMO and 256 QAM), the "5G E" icon will be displayed in the upper right corner, but in fact, the network speed does not accelerate. Their argument is that 5G Evolution and the 5GE logo "simply let customers know their device is in an area where speeds up to twice as fast as standard LTE are available". AT&T here has not done anything to their 4G LTE network to "evolve" it for 5GE, which is where the difference lies. We are "being clear with our customers, this is an evolutionary step to 5G".

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson defended the "5G E" branding in a TV interview Friday. AT&T's response to the suit seems downright freaky and off-topic, especially given that average consumers likely don't know the difference between 5G and 5G E, AT&T's marketing efforts notwithstanding.

United States operator Sprint is so outraged by AT&T's attempt to rebrand its LTE-A service as 5Ge that it's taking its competitor to court over it. All three carriers have denounced AT&T's decision, saying that it gives 5G a bad reputation and will mislead customers.

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Filed in the U.S. District Court Southern District in NY on Thursday, the complaint is a good primer on some aspects of wireless marketing, noting the "extremely saturated" wireless market is mainly served by Sprint, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, and implying that a tall story can go a long way: "In light of the highly saturated market, any perceived advancement in technology or in the capabilities of a service provider's wireless network can give that service provider a significant competitive advantage over other wireless companies that can last for years". Since 2017, it has been building the "5G E" brand name for its LTE-Advanced network.

"We introduced 5G Evolution more than two years ago, clearly defining it as an evolutionary step to standards-based 5G", AT&T said.

Sprint commissioned a survey, which found that 54-percent of respondents believe that 5GE networks are better or the same as 5G networks.

Sprint is arguing that, along with AT&T's advertising campaign promoting the 5G-evolution, is meant to convince customers they are using a true 5G network when they aren't.

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'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". That didn't stop AT&T from updating devices on its network to show "5G E" in the status indicator at the top. T-Mobile and Verizon have both pushed back against this in their own way.

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