In the United States, AT&T has been creating a lot of controversy for its 5G Evolution (5G E) naming, which is the company’s consumer-facing name for LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) technology. 5G E in essence is an extension of existing 4G LTE technology and is not in fact true 5G.
5G E is just a speed-boosted extension of AT&T’s existing 4G LTE network and is in no way related to true 5G wireless networks. However, A&T is using the 5GE naming convention to fool customers into believing that they are getting something that they aren’t.
Last month, AT&T started applying 5G E network logos to Android phones that support its expanded network and now Apple appears to be supporting the false advertising. Apple made the change with iOS 12.2 Developer Beta 2, which is now being distributed to developers and public beta testers.
If iPhone and iPad Pro users are connected to a segment of AT&T’s network that has been upgraded to support the faster LTE-A speeds, the 5G E logo will be displayed.
Right now, 5G E connections are strictly limited to Apple’s 2018 family of iOS devices, including the iPhone XR, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and LTE versions of the iPad Pro. All of these devices feature Intel’s latest 4G LTE cellular modems with 4×4 MIMO support.
Unfortunately, AT&T’s campaign is seriously misleading customers with 5G E labels and is leading to major confusion. Some customers have been led to believe that they actually have devices that are 5G compliant, when such smartphones haven’t even been announced, let alone released.
AT&T’s competitors have also thrown shade at the company for its brazen actions.
“We’re calling on the broad wireless industry to commit to labelling something 5G only if new device hardware is connecting to the network using new radio technology to deliver new capabilities,” said Verizon in January.
“We will not call our 4G network a 5G network if customers don’t experience a performance or capability upgrade that only 5G can deliver.”
AT&T appears to be relishing in the fact that it came up with an idea to confuse and mislead customers,
“If I now occupy beachfront real estate in our competitors’ heads, that makes me smile,” said AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan in response.
“Every company is guilty of building a narrative of how you want the world to work. And I love the fact that we broke our industry’s narrative two days ago, and they’re frustrated and gonna do what they’re gonna do.”