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.
No ordinary phones on the market can yet connect to faster 5G networks, but several are expected soon from Samsung, Lenovo's Motorola, and others.
AT&T did respond to Sprint's lawsuit with a statement claiming that "our competitors don't like what we're doing, but our customers love it", because apparently AT&T customers can't get enough fake 5G service. In fact, says Sprint's lawsuit, there are no 5G-enabled mobile phones or tablets available for sale from any service provider in the US today.
Sprint is right in this instance; all of the "Big Four" wireless carriers have deployed LTE-A networks in select markets, but only AT&T has made a decision to go one step further by trying to piggyback on the emergence of true 5G networks as a competitive advantage. They have built their pitch for a merger in part around plans to build a 5G network that they say other carriers will not be able to match. "It's total confusion for the customers". AT&T's response to the suit seems downright freakish and off-topic, especially given that average consumers likely don't know the difference between 5G and 5G E, AT&T's marketing efforts notwithstanding. In 2010 and 2011, first T-Mobile, then AT&T started calling the 3G HSPA+ technology "4G" for marketing reasons; eventually the ITU, the global body which decides these things, rolled over and declared that to be fine.
AT&T successfully tested a new software update on its live commercial 5G+ network, which resulted in speeds over 1.5 Gbps, he said, noting that speed doesn't reflect current user-experienced 5G+ speeds, which are lower and will vary. 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. "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".
AT&T in recent weeks has begun replacing the "LTE" symbol at the top of some smartphones with a new icon that says "5G E", which stands for "5G Evolution".
It promises super-fast speeds, but building those 5G networks takes years. Compounding the confusion, 17 percent of respondents said they already have 5G-and a full quarter of people who answered "yes" to the question, "Do you know what 5G means?" said they already have it. 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". "So we're characterizing this as 5GE, 5G Evolution".
AT&T reiterated that it introduced 5G Evolution more than two years ago, "clearly defining it as an evolutionary step" on the path towards 5G, said AT&T to Android Authority. The carrier is now in the process of trying to merge with rival T-Mobile. However, that isn't any different than what standard 4G LTE can offer.