Published: Sat, February 09, 2019
Electronics | By Shannon Stone

Sprint Just Sued AT&T Over ‘Deceptive’ 5GE

Sprint Just Sued AT&T Over ‘Deceptive’ 5GE

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. There's just one problem: AT&T doesn't offer phones that support 5G yet, and what it brands as "5G E" is actually just 4G LTE Advanced.

The test was conducted in the field using a mobile form factor test device, and AT&T told FierceWireless that it plans to roll out this network upgrade across its network as quickly as possible, enabling its early adopters to be some of the first in the start benefiting from the performance enhancements these upgrades will enable "in the near future".

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.

AT&T is touting its ability to achieve 1.5 Gbps in a field test using its commercial 5G network at the same time it's defending its use of the "5G E" moniker on phones, something Sprint is suing the operator over.

But those faster speeds are not 5G, and customers today don't own 5G-capable phones, because there are none. Yet.

5G Evolution is AT&T's bullshit branding for existing 4G LTE Advanced, which as Sprint notes in its lawsuit is "offered by all other major wireless carriers".

In December, Kevin Petersen, an AT&T senior vice president said in a post on the company blog that 5GE services were available in 585 markets, while standards-based 5G services were available in parts of 12 cities. Competing carriers cried foul as 5G E is little more than extension of 4G LTE technology and is in no way true 5G.

The lawsuit, which was uploaded to Scribd by Engadget, alleges that AT&T is partaking in false and misleading advertising to gain an unfair advantage over its competitors.

"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", Sprint said in the suit, published by Engadget. We are "being clear with our customers, this is an evolutionary step to 5G".

"But calling its network "5GE" (or "5G E" or "5G Evolution") does not make it a 5G network and instead deceives customers into believing it is something that it is not".

A January report by The Wall Street Journal had noted complaints by Verizon and T-Mobile about AT&T's 5G E claims, though it failed to mention any objections by Sprint specifically. AT&T's service is not 5G-ready or capable, and they have pulled stunts like this in the past.

"We introduced 5G Evolution more than two years ago, clearly defining it as an evolutionary step to standards-based 5G", AT&T said. 5G E, as AT&T claims, stands for "5G Evolution", or the precursor to the nationwide 5G networks carriers are beginning to build out.

Shares of AT&T (t) and Sprint (s) were down 1% on Friday in midday trading.

"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'.

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