Sprint is Suing AT&T Over Its Misleading ‘5G E’ Label

Yolanda Curtis
February 9, 2019

Sprint said it wrote to AT&T on January 4, 2019, "demanding that AT&T stop its false and misleading activity", but AT&T "den [ied] Sprint's request and refus [ed] to alter its deceptive conduct".

Sprint said in the lawsuit that the AT&T advertising "deceives consumers" into thinking they already have access to 5G connectivity, when they are really only connected to a faster 4G network.

AT&T started rolling out the 5GE label on smartphones last month, and now the icon is appearing on iPhones.

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

Following the "5GE" network branding (the "e" means enhanced, suggesting this is better still than 5G), the other three major U.S. carriers reacted in different ways. Sprint's case focuses around the fact that the company has implemented "significant and costly 5G hardware upgrades to its 4G LTE network" in an effort to be the first company to bring legitimate 5G to market. There is, in reality, nothing "5G" about AT&T's "5G E" network, and AT&T has received a lot of justified criticism for trying to pass off 4G LTE Advanced as some kind of 5G implementation. "It also means we're the only company in the USA that can test the latest updates in real time on a standards based 5G commercial mobile network".

"AT&T's advertisements are a transparent attempt to influence consumers' purchasing decisions by deceiving them into believing that AT&T's network-because it claims to be a 5G wireless network-is more technologically advanced and of higher quality than those of other wireless service providers, including Sprint".

As it stands, Sprint's the only carrier taking legal action against AT&T for it's fake 5G network.

Rival telecom firm Sprint filed a lawsuit against AT&T late Thursday, saying it was misleading consumers into believing they were using fifth generation or 5G wireless networks, a technology that has not yet been widely deployed.

"We understand why our competitors don't like what we are doing, but our customers love it", AT&T said in a statement provided to Tom's Guide. T-Mobile CEO John Legere was less restrained.

"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's service is not 5G-ready or capable, and they have pulled stunts like this in the past. Customers want and deserve to know when they are getting better speeds. It's 100% misleading garbage, that AT&T is fully aware of.

The website Engadget harkened back to 2012 complaints about AT&T and T-Mobile using 4G labels on services that others considered to be faster 3G technologies. "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.

In response to the lawsuit, AT&T's Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson said in an interview with CNBC that the company's customers are seeing an increase in speed and performance on the "5G E" network and this is a step required to get to 'ultimate 5G'.

Other reports by iNewsToday