AT&T's fake "5G" service sparks deceptive advertising lawsuit from Sprint

AT&T’s fake 5G icon is now the subject of a Sprint lawsuit

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.

"By making the false claim that it is offering a 5G wireless network where it offers only a 4G LTE Advanced network, AT&T is attempting to secure an unfair advantage in the saturated wireless market", Sprint wrote in a complaint filed yesterday in US District Court for the Southern District of NY.

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.

'The significance of AT&T's deception can not be overstated, ' Sprint said in the lawsuit. The network operator filed a lawsuit in federal court with the sole goal of preventing AT&T from using the 5G Evolution logo on its devices or any advertising materials. Sprint's complaint cites reporting from Ars and other news outlets. 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.

Sprint files lawsuit against AT&T over its misleading 5G Evolution logo

The Washington Post's Brian Fung spoke to one of Sprint's lawyers this morning and said the carrier is "going it alone", without plans to involve other carriers in the suit.

Sprint said it is spending billions of dollars to roll out a "true" 5G network, starting in nine cities this year, including NY. We introduced 5G Evolution more than two years ago, clearly defining it as an evolutionary step to standards-based 5G. We saw history repeat itself when iOS 12.2 signaled the adoption of "5G E" on iPhones that don't actually support any type of 5G networks at all. Their argument is that 5G Evolution and the 5GE logo "simply let customers know their device is in an area where speeds up to twice as fast as standard LTE are available". "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.

Following the "5GE" network branding (the "e" means enhanced, suggesting this is better still than 5G), the other three major USA carriers reacted in different ways. That didn't stop AT&T from updating devices on its network to show "5G E" in the status indicator at the top. AT&T offers standards-based 5G in parts of 12 cities, but its first 5G device for sale is a mobile hotspot rather than a phone. Now Sprint is taking things to the next level. Sprint commissioned a survey over 5GE with results showing that 54% of respondents believe that "5GE" is the same or better than 5G, while 43% believe that if they buy a phone from AT&T today, it'll be 5G capable. Engadget has the report on Friday, saying that Sprint is now suing AT&T for misleading its customers. 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.

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