Published: Sat, February 09, 2019
IT | By Lester Massey

Sprint sues AT&T over ‘5G E’ icon as marketing claims heat up

Sprint sues AT&T over ‘5G E’ icon as marketing claims heat up

As Engadget points out, AT&T's move has been mocked by rival carriers such as T-Mobile and Verizon, but it looks like Sprint has taken a more serious approach.

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.

On AT&T's own forums, some-but not all-consumers appear confused.

T-Mobile US Chief Executive Officer John Legere called the ploy "fake" 5G, among other unprintable words, on the Bellevue company's earnings call Thursday.

The tension grew over the past several weeks as some iPhones and Androids began displaying AT&T's 5G E symbol near the network coverage bars at the top of phone screens. As of this moment in February 2019, there are no 5G-capable phones available for purchase as carriers are just starting to get their 5G networks off the ground.

After being mocked by the internet and other carriers, AT&T is showing no signs of slowing down its push to mislead customers with a "5GE" connectivity logo on phones that do not support any sort of 5G connection. "AT&T's deceptive ads have harmed consumers by persuading them to purchase or continue purchasing AT&T's services based on the lie that they are offering 5G", the statement said. As 4G LTE will be aggregated with 5G-NR in 5G networks, AT&T could also argue (accurately) that LTE is a component of 5G, so they might as well call it 5G.

"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'". Since 2017, it has been building the "5G E" brand name for its LTE-Advanced network.


"As greater capabilities are validated in interoperability testing (IOT) environments between our technology partners (both network and silicon providers), we are moving quickly to enable in our network allowing for quick real world validation", AT&T said.

Sprint accuses AT&T of running an advertising blitz that is "falsely and misleadingly stating that AT&T offers its wireless service on a 5G network" and incorrectly telling customers their phones are operating on a 5G network when they are instead connected to a 4G LTE network. "That's what 5G Evolution is, and we are delighted to deliver it to our customers". "Sprint will have to reconcile its arguments to the FCC 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.'" Sprint and T-Mobile are still awaiting the fate of their proposed merger.

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

AT&T and Verizon have a small, early lead thanks to several limited deployments.

"I've heard they even have plans to show a 5G network indicator for LTE on consumers" devices to hide the fact that actual 5G will be scarce, duping customers into thinking they're getting something they're not'.

Sprint also claimed in their suit that 54 percent of customers they surveyed believed the "5GE" service was true 5G, further reinforcing their false advertising claim.

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