Sprint Just Sued AT&T Over ‘Deceptive’ 5GE

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

U.S. operator Sprint is so outraged by AT&T's attempt to rebrand its LTE-A service as 5Ge that it's taking its competitor to court over it.

Many experts believe that the tech-which could deliver speeds that are 100 to 200-times faster than 4G-won't arrive at scale for at least another two years.

Sprint is requesting that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of NY block AT&T from continuing to use the label "5G E" or any related variant of the label. T-Mobile settled for roasting AT&T on Twitter, while Verizon published a serious letter urging the mobile industry at large not to give in to the temptation to mislead customers with bogus branding.

Sprint says in the lawsuit that competition within the wireless industry, specifically between the big four carriers, is fierce, and since most people in the USA have mobile phones, carriers these days typically acquire new customers by pulling them away from competitors. 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. According to Sprint, the "5G E" logo displayed on customers' phones doesn't mean that they would benefit from 5G technology, which is not yet available in the United States. Even though users are still on 4G network, AT&T is calling it 5G Evolution, Sprint said in the lawsuit. In those spots, AT&T is rebranding its LTE Advanced and LTE Advanced Pro technologies as 5G Evolution.

"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", Sprint wrote in the 23-page lawsuit filed in federal court in NY. In December previous year, AT&T, the second-largest operator in the United States, announced that it had pushed the "5G E" icon to users.

"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.

T-Mobile also hit out at the firm, accusing it of "duping customers" with the move. 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. Engadget has the report on Friday, saying that Sprint is now suing AT&T for misleading its customers. "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.

The company plans to fight the lawsuit, and will continue to deploy 5G Evolution even as it builds out its real, standards-based mobile 5G network. "Customers want and deserve to know when they are getting better speeds", AT&T said in response to the lawsuit.

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. The "5GE" icon, which stands for "5G Evolution", and is showing up on some phones in select areas of coverage is not in fact 5G at all.

Sprint said a survey showed 54 percent of AT&T's consumers believed their "5G E" network is the same as or better than a 5G network and 43 percent believed that if they buy an AT&T phone today, it would be capable of running on 5G.

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