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AT&T sued by Sprint, must defend decision to tell users that 4G is "5G E"



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<p> Enlarge <span class= / Screenshot from an AT&T commercial.

Sprint is suing AT&T, alleging that AT & T's failure "5G E" advertising campaign violates laws Prohibition of false advertising and deceptive acts and practices. AT&T has a large portion of its 4G network, calling it "5G E," for "5G Evolution." But as we've written, what AT&T calls 5G E consists of technologies that are part of the year-old 4G LTE-advanced standard and are already used by Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint on their 4G networks. Despite that, AT&T has been advertising this supposedly upgraded to 5G and even changing network indicators on smartphones from 4G to 5G E. "Making the false claim that it is offering 5G wireless network where it offers only 4G LTE Advanced network, AT&T is trying to secure an unfair advantage in the saturated wireless market, "Sprint wrote in a complaint filed yesterday in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. "AT & T's false and misleading statements divulge consumers into believing that AT&T now operates on 5G wireless network and, through this deception, AT&T to induce consumers to purchase or renew AT & T's services when they might otherwise have purchased Sprint's services."

Sprint allegedly that AT&T violates US law prohibiting false advertising and New York state laws against deceptive acts and practices and false advertising. Sprint asked the court for monetary damages and an injunction against AT&T from using 5G or 5G E branding "AT&T advertises as" 5GE, "5G E, or" 5G Evolution, "or any designation containing" 5G, 'complies with 3GPP 5G standards.' Sprint's complaint cites report from Ars and other news outlets.

In late 201

8, OpenSignal measurements found that ATG's different download speeds nationwide were slower than Verizon's and T-Mobile's 4G networks. Sprint is the only major carrier for AT&T beat in that ranking

AT&T remains defiant

AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan recently defended the 5G E branding, saying AT & T's rivals are "frustrated" and that "I have now occupied beachfront real estate in my competitors' heads. "

AT&T continued its defiance today.

" 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 . "We introduced 5G Evolution more than two years ago, clearly defining it as an evolutionary step to standards-based 5G. 5G Evolution and the 5G E indicator simply let customers know when their device is in an area where speeds up to twice as fast as standard LTE are available. That's what 5G Evolution is, and we are delighted to deliver it to our customers. "AT&T said it will fight this lawsuit while continuing to deploy 5G Evolution in addition to standard-based mobile 5G," and that "customers want to know when they are getting better speeds." AT&T also took a shot at Sprint's claims that it can't deploy a robust 5G network unless US regulators approve its proposed merger with T-Mobile.

"Sprint will have to reconcile its arguments to the FCC that it cannot deploy a widespread 5G network without T-Mobile while simultaneously claiming this launch to" legitimate 5G technology imminently, "" AT&T said.

No 5G phones for sale ye t

Sprint's complaint notes that all four major US wireless carriers offer the same LTE-Advanced features as AT & T's "5G" network and that "currently, there are no 5G-enabled mobile phones or tablets available for sale or lease to consumers . "

" AT & T's 5G E 'network is not, in fact, a 5G wireless network, nor does AT&T sell a single 5G-enabled mobile phone or tablet, "Sprint wrote.

AT & T's" 5G E "is available in more than 400 markets nationwide. AT&T offers standard-based 5G in parts of 12 cities, but its first 5G device for sale is a mobile hotspot rather than a phone.

Sprint's complaint said that AT & T's "deceptive" 5G campaign includes "1) a nationwide television and Internet advertising campaign falsely and misleadingly stating that AT&T offers its wireless service on a 5G network; (2) a software update that will change the screens of mobile phones and tablets operating on the AT&T 4G LTE Advanced network to indicate that these devices are connected to 5G network; and (3) other digital content falsely marketing AT&T phones 5G phones capable of connecting to a 5G network. "Sprint said it commissioned a survey of wireless users and found that 54 percent of consumers" mistakenly believed , based on AT & T's 5G E claims, that AT & T's 5G E network is the same as or better than a 5G network. " The survey found that 43 percent of consumers were found to be in AT&T phone today, it was capable of running on a 5G network, "Sprint said." ATT & T's advertising is false and misleading, "Sprint wrote. . "It deceives consumers into believing that AT & T's mobile devices operate on a 5G network when, in truth, those devices operate on the same 4G LTE Advanced network using AT&T customers already. AT & T's '5G E' network is a 4G LTE Advanced network, just like the networks of Sprint and the other major wireless service providers, none of which are merging their 4G LTE Advanced networks as 5G. "

Sprint said it wrote to AT&T on January 4, 2019," demanding that AT&T stops its false and misleading activity, "but AT&T" [ied] Sprint's request and refuses [ed] to alter its deceptive conduct. "


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