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Sprint sues AT&T over 'misleading' 5G E icon

12 February 2019, 08:15 | Cameron Gross

AT&T said it will fight a lawsuit over what some rivals and consumers have derided as “fake 5G” technology

Sprint sues AT&T over ‘5G E’ marketing calling it deceptive and misleading

Sprint has filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of NY against rival AT&T alleging its rival has misled consumers by leading them to believe they were using 5G wireless networks, a technology that has not yet been widely deployed.

Mobile phones and tablets could download full length HD movies in less than 5 seconds, 100 times faster than 4G (six minutes) and 25,000 times faster than 3G (26 hours). Yesterday, Sprint filed a lawsuit in federal district court alleging that by rebranding its gigabit 4G LTE service as "5G Evolution", AT&T "violates federal and state laws governing false advertising and deceptive acts".

The lawsuit from Sprint comes after AT&T was roasted for an attempt that made it look like it already offered the fifth-generation wireless technology on its phones, USA Today reported.

AT&T did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Sprint and T-Mobile, in comparison, don't expect their mobile 5G networks to get off the ground until the second half of the year.

Meanwhile, 43 percent said if they buy an AT&T phone today, it would be capable of running on 5G. "It's total confusion for the customers".

AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan recently defended the 5G E branding, saying AT&T's rivals are "frustrated" and that "I have now occupied beachfront real estate in my competitors' heads".




But AT&T has yet to switch on such a network for smartphones, prompting Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint to pile on with tweets, full-page ads in print media and other statements condemning the rhetoric.

An AT&T spokesman told Barron's: "We understand why our competitors don't like what we are doing, but our customers love it".

The lawsuit came after Apple's popular iPhone on AT&T's network started showing the "5GE" label this week, even though Apple doesn't make a 5G compatible phone and isn't even expected to be offering one until 2020.

AT&T's product is "nothing more than" advanced LTE, or an advanced version of what the industry calls 4G Long Term Evolution technology, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of NY.

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

AT&T issued its own statement that acknowledged a distinction between its 5GE service and "standards-based 5G" service. We are "being clear with our customers, this is an evolutionary step to 5G". The operator said it will fight the lawsuit while continuing to deploy 5G Evolution in addition to standards-based mobile 5G. The big blue carrier calls it "5G Evolution", or "5G E" for short, and it is not 5G technology at all. "So we're characterizing this as 5GE, 5G Evolution". T-Mobile took to Twitter with a hilarious mockery of the branding, slapping a "9G" sticker onto an iPhone. "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". But this is why we refer to 4G as "4G LTE" and not simply 4G.



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