Sprint's so-called fake 5G means that AT&T users will see the "5G E" icon in the upper right corner of the phone from this year. What AT&T touts as 5G, however, is nothing more than an enhanced fourth-generation Long Term Evolution wireless service, known as 4G LTE Advanced, which is offered by all other major wireless carriers.
Sprint is requesting that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of NY block AT&T from continuing to use the label "5G E" or any related variant of the label.
What's more, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson appeared on CNBC today and said that the company is "comfortable" with what it's doing and that they are "being very clear with our customers that this is an evolutionary step".
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 U.S. have mobile phones, carriers these days typically acquire new customers by pulling them away from competitors.
Back in December, AT&T started rolling out "5G E" branding to some of the phones on its network. As of this moment in February 2019, there are no 5G-capable phones available for purchase as carriers are just starting to get their 5G networks off the ground. "AT&T's deceptive ads have harmed consumers by persuading them to purchase or continue purchasing AT&T's services based on the lie that they are offering 5G", said Sprint to Android Authority.
5G E, which stands for AT&T's 5G Evolution initiative, can offer data speeds up to 50 or 100 times faster than 4G networks. But AT&T hasn't yet flipped the switch on its standards-based 5G network, and there are no 5G-capable phones on the market.
There are countless ways for AT&T to share the message that they are delivering an upgraded 4G LTE experience to customers that do not involve telling them their phone now connects in some way to 5G.More news: Russian Federation asks US to destroy weapons banned by INF Treaty
More news: Vaccinate children against measles — UNICEF urges parents
More news: Police tell Waze to stop pinpointing their checkpoints
Rival telecom firm Sprint filed a lawsuit against AT&T late Thursday, saying it was misleading consumers into believing they were using fifth generation or 5G wireless networks, a technology that has not yet been widely deployed.
"We understand why our competitors don't like what we are doing, but our customers love it".
5G Evolution and the 5GE indicator let customers know when their device is in an area where speeds up to twice as fast as standard LTE are available, AT&T said.
"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, '" AT&T said.
"We introduced 5G Evolution more than two years ago, clearly defining it as an evolutionary step to standards-based 5G", AT&T said. "Customers want and deserve to know when they are getting better speeds", AT&T said in response to the lawsuit.
As "proof" non-savvy consumers are being fooled, Sprint claims a company-commissioned survey found 54 percent of consumers thought AT&T's 5GE was the same as a real 5G network.
"AT&T's advertising is false and misleading", Sprint wrote.