AT&T is simultaneously celebrating achieving 1.5 Gbps on its commercial 5G network during a recent field test and defending its “5G E” marketing practices—the latter which Sprint is suing the carrier over. As the marketing battle ensues, the question becomes what is 5G and what is 4G on steroids?
Regarding the good news for AT&T, Gordon Mansfield, VP Converged Access and Device Design, wrote on the carrier’s blog that it’s “continuing to evolve quickly and accelerate the technology ecosystem.” Mansfield also noted since AT&T is the first carrier in the country to introduce standards based mobile 5G on its 5G+ network, it can test the latest updates in real time.
“The advantage with having a live mobile 5G network is that we could test this upgrade in the lab and take it to the field within hours,” Mansfield wrote. “And, we could observe how the upgrade performed in both settings – which are very different. We plan to roll out this network upgrade across our network as quickly as possible, enabling our early adopters to be some of the first in the U.S. to start benefiting from the performance enhancements these upgrades will enable in the near future. This is just one more example of how our leadership in driving the mobile 5G ecosystem and setting the stage for the 5G experiences of tomorrow.”
The sooner AT&T can deploy a true 5G network the better, as its competitors have been critical of how the carrier has presented its 5G capabilities. Recently, some AT&T customers have seen the “LTE” symbol on their smartphones replaced with “5G E” (5G Evolution) despite the fact the carrier hasn’t officially switched to a 5G network. Other carriers have complained this tactic is deceitful and that AT&T is trying to gain an “unfair advantage” by using allegedly false marketing.
Sprint has done more than just complain about AT&T’s “5G E” marketing, however. The company recently filed a lawsuit in federal court against AT&T, requesting the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York block AT&T from using “5G E” or any variation of it.
“AT&T is deliberately deceiving consumers into believing that their existing 4G LTE network operates on a coveted and highly anticipated 5G network,” a Sprint spokeswoman told Connected Real Estate Magazine last week. “The reality is that this network isn’t ‘new’ and ‘5G E’ is a false and misleading term. AT&T is just like Sprint and all the other major wireless carriers currently operating a nationwide 4G LTE network. 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.”
Meanwhile, AT&T has defended its of the “5G E” moniker. The carrier said the new label is a sign that its mainstream 5G network is on its way.
“We understand why our competitors don’t like what we are doing, but our customers love it,” AT&T spokesman Michael Balmoris said in a statement. “We introduced 5G Evolution more than two years ago, clearly defining it as an evolutionary step to standards-based 5G. 5G Evolution and the 5GE indicator simply let customers know when their device is in an area where speeds up to twice as fast as standard LTE are available.”