Sprint sues AT&T, claiming 'deceptive' and illegal 5GE branding

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

AT&T renamed a large portion of its 4G network, calling it "5G E", for "5G Evolution". Sprint is less cool with it than Verizon and T-Mobile and has made a decision to file a lawsuit in federal court to try and stop AT&T from using its sneaky, completely made-up evolutionary network technology term.

Sprint is right in this instance; all of the "Big Four" wireless carriers have deployed LTE-A networks in select markets, but only AT&T has chose to go one step further by trying to piggyback on the emergence of true 5G networks as a competitive advantage.

Sprint's lawsuit lays out the idea that AT&T is using the same 4G LTE Advanced technology as they are, as Verizon is, and as T-Mobile is, yet is referring to it as 5G Evolution.

The significance of AT&T's deception can not be overstated. Sprint is seeking an injunction that prevents AT&T from using "5G E" on devices and advertising. Sprint's complaint cites reporting from Ars and other news outlets. Sprint is the only major carrier that AT&T beat in that ranking.

"As greater capabilities are validated in interoperability testing (IOT) environments between our technology partners (both network and silicon providers), we are moving quickly to enable in our network allowing for quick real world validation", AT&T said.

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 Tom's Guide. The company has said the label reflects the fact that AT&T is on the pathway to rolling out a mainstream 5G network, which could eventually support download speeds up to 100 times faster than the current standard. "That's what 5G Evolution is, and we are delighted to deliver it to our customers". They don't think they are misleading customers, will continue to push the 5G Evolution message, and will fight Sprint's lawsuit. "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 says in the lawsuit that competition within the wireless industry, specifically between the big four carriers, is fierce, and since most people in the United States have mobile phones, carriers these days typically acquire new customers by pulling them away from competitors. AT&T's response to the suit seems downright freakish and off-topic, especially given that average consumers likely don't know the difference between 5G and 5G E, AT&T's marketing efforts notwithstanding.

AT&T issued its own statement that acknowledged a distinction between its 5GE service and "standards-based 5G" service. Now Sprint is taking things to the next level.

Sprint also argues that AT&T's deception is working on some level, citing a survey it commissioned that shows 54% of polled consumers believing that "AT&T's "5GE" network is the same as or better than a 5G network", while 43% of consumers believe that AT&T is now selling phones that are capable of connecting to 5G networks. Engadget has the report on Friday, saying that Sprint is now suing AT&T for misleading its customers.

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