Sprint files suit against AT&T for their fake 5G branding


AT&T's LTE-A tech may be capable of near gigabit speeds, but 5G it most certainly is not. Sprint wants AT&T to be prevented from using "5G" in any of its ads until it's proper 5G and it wants as much cash as possible in damages. The suit notes that AT&T calls its new network 5GE.

The war of words between America's top carriers over 5G branding has now devolved into a lawsuit. It also found that 43 percent of respondents said that they would consider buying an AT&T phone labeled as 5G E, as they believe that they would be receiving a true 5G smartphone.

"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", the suit said. 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.

AT&T does have a mobile 5G network out there in the wild, with an expansion planned for the rest of 2019 and beyond. "It harms consumers by holding out AT&T's services as more technologically advanced than Sprint's and enticing consumers to switch wireless service providers (or remain AT&T subscribers) under false pretenses".

Sprint said it is spending billions of dollars to roll out a "true" 5G network, starting in nine cities this year, including NY.

"AT&T's false and misleading statements deceive consumers into believing that AT&T now operates a 5G wireless network and, through this deception, AT&T seeks to induce consumers to purchase or renew AT&T's services when they might otherwise have purchased Sprint's services", Sprint says.

"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 Ars. 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". Speaking after his company's quarterly earnings report on Thursday, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said he had concerns. AT&T's service is not 5G-ready or capable, and they have pulled stunts like this in the past.

"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'.

AT&T and Verizon have a small, early lead thanks to several limited deployments.

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". 5G E, as AT&T claims, stands for "5G Evolution", or the precursor to the nationwide 5G networks carriers are beginning to build out.

Sprint also argues that AT&T's deception is working on some level, citing a survey it commissioned that shows 54% of polled consumers believing that "AT&T's "5GE" network is the same as or better than a 5G network", while 43% of consumers believe that AT&T is now selling phones that are capable of connecting to 5G networks.