AT&T customers are seeing "5G E" logo on their mobile devices in over 400 markets.
Nothing less than the public's introduction to 5G is at stake.
"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. Right now, however, 5G is still in its earliest stages.
AT&T's strategy, which arguably amounts to trickery, has been categorized by many as misleading at best and purposefully deceptive at worst. Similarly, Verizon launched non-standard fixed 5G service in four neighborhoods in California.
"This is created to make people think they have a 5G network and that is absolutely a lie", Solé said.
AT&T pulled a fast one. Since 2017, it has been building the "5G E" brand name for its LTE-Advanced network.
"We understand why our competitors don't like what we are doing, but our customers love it".
"AT&T has sought to gain an unfair advantage in the race to 5G by embarking on a nationwide advertising campaign to deceive consumers into believing that its existing 4G LTE Advanced network is now a 5G network", says Sprint in the filing.
AT&T also clarified that it's an upgrade to "5G+, our mmWave 5G network, not 5G E", so people using the Netgear hotspot will benefit, and future 5G+ devices will benefit as well.
Executives at Verizon and T-Mobile have also criticized AT&T's move. Speaking after his company's quarterly earnings report on Thursday, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said he had concerns. Sprint is less cool with it than Verizon and T-Mobile and has chose 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 commissioned a survey over 5GE with results showing that 54% of respondents believe that "5GE" is the same or better than 5G, while 43% believe that if they buy a phone from AT&T today, it'll be 5G capable. The company went on to explain that the 5G E indicator is meant to signal to AT&T customers that they are in an area that offers mobile data speeds that are faster than standard LTE.
AT&T renamed a large portion of its 4G network, calling it "5G E", for "5G Evolution". "We introduced 5G Evolution more than two years ago, clearly defining it as an evolutionary step to standards-based 5G". However, AT&T doesn't care about that because all it cares about is marketing, and getting ahead of the competition.
Each of the four major players in the USA telecom industry-Sprint, AT&T, Verizon Communications (VZ), and T-Mobile US (TMUS)-has been racing to deploy a next-generation 5G network, with several small-scale rollouts in a few markets already active.