Sci-tech

Sprint Suing AT&T over False 5G Claims

Sprint Suing AT&T over False 5G Claims

AT&T didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Solé went on to claim that AT&T marketing practices is devaluing 5G for the entire industry. 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.

Attendees check their smartphone devices by a 5G sign during the opening day of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona. However, for many users who do not understand technology, they will mistakenly believe that AT&T has provided the 5G network.

Mobile phones and tablets could download full length HD movies in less than 5 seconds, 100 times faster than 4G (six minutes) and 25,000 times faster than 3G (26 hours).

T-Mobile also hit out at the firm, accusing it of "duping customers" with the move. In fact, a few YouTubers have done videos comparing 5GE to 4G LTE on AT&T's network and while there were some faster speeds on 5GE, that is likely due to newer technology being supported, like massive MIMO in a newer phone.

"The reality is that this network isn't "new" and "5G E" is a false and misleading term", a spokesperson for Sprint said in a statement to CNBC. Through this lawsuit, Sprint is actually looking for real money, seeking relief by way of "awarding damages in an amount to be determined at trial".

Sprint last month announced it planned to release 5G smartphones with Samsung Electronics in the U.S.in the summer.

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While this lawsuit may come off sounding like sour grapes from Sprint, they do have a point.

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.

Even though the roll out of 5G smartphones hasn't begun, AT&T has made a decision to replace the 4G icon on select devices with a 5G E symbol in areas with support for AT&T's fastest LTE technologies. Or perhaps they love the number five and the letters "G" and "E". "We've done a lot of work around how we characterize this and we're being very clear with our customers that this is an evolutionary step". In those spots, AT&T is rebranding its LTE Advanced and LTE Advanced Pro technologies as 5G Evolution.

"We introduced 5G Evolution more than two years ago, clearly defining it as an evolutionary step to standards-based 5G", AT&T said.

Filed in the U.S. District Court Southern District in NY on Thursday, the complaint is a good primer on some aspects of wireless marketing, noting the "extremely saturated" wireless market is mainly served by Sprint, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, and implying that a tall story can go a long way: "In light of the highly saturated market, any perceived advancement in technology or in the capabilities of a service provider's wireless network can give that service provider a significant competitive advantage over other wireless companies that can last for years".

According to a survey of wireless consumers Sprint commissioned for its complaint, 43% of respondents said that AT&T's "5GE" advertising made them believe that if they bought an AT&T phone today, it would be capable of running on a 5G network.