Sprint sues AT&T over 5G branding



'.[AT&T] has sought to gain an unfair advantage in the race to 5G by embarking on a nationwide advertising campaign to deceive consumers into believe that its existing 4G LTE Advanced network is now a 5G network.

Sprint said that 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.

"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.

Last month, AT&T customers saw a "5G E" logo on their mobile devices in over 400 markets - even though they were still on a 4G network. Similarly, Verizon launched non-standard fixed 5G service in four neighborhoods in California. The four major carriers in the USA are all rushing headlong into 5G.

"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. Verizon (vz) and T-Mobile (tmus) shares were about unchanged.

USA 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. There is the outright lie involved in suggesting something is 5G when it isn't and then there's the damage done to Sprint competitively and the outright damage done to the U.S. telecoms market by deceiving it into thinking 5G is already here. Instead, this is AT&T's sneaky way of branding their improved 4G LTE technology, which may now be slightly faster due to carrier aggregation and 4x4 MIMO antennas.

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In a plea to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)'s chairman Ajit Pai, T-Mobile CEO John Legere promised not to increase prices for three years if the government agency approves its $26 billion merger with Sprint. 5G Evolution and the 5GE indicator simply let customers know when their device is in an area where speeds up to twice as fast as standard LTE are available.

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 lawsuit, first reported by Engadget, focuses on the idea that consumers will purchase AT&T phones because they incorrectly believe they will provide 5G service. "That's what 5G Evolution is, and we are delighted to deliver it to our customers", said AT&T.

AT&T said it "will fight this lawsuit while continuing to deploy 5G Evolution in addition to standards-based mobile 5G", and that "customers want and deserve to know when they are getting better speeds".

AT&T also took a shot at its competition. Sprint argues that AT&T practice is damaging the reputation of 5G while they work to build a "legitimate early entry into the 5G network space". T-Mobile tweeted a video of someone pasting a sticky note on their phone that said "9G" with the tagline "didn't realize it was this easy". The court has not responded publicly to the lawsuit, nor have any hearings been scheduled.

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