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. 5GE is not 5G, it's not better, and no current AT&T phone will ever connect to a real 5G network.
Sprint's complaint notes that all four major United States wireless carriers offer the same LTE-Advanced features as AT&T's "5G E" network and that "currently, there are no 5G-enabled mobile phones or tablets available for sale or lease to consumers".
The lawsuit came after Apple's popular iPhone on AT&T's network started showing the "5GE" label this week, even though Apple doesn't make a 5G compatible phone and isn't even expected to be offering one until 2020. "5G Evolution and the 5GE indicator simply let customers know when their device is in an area where speeds up to twice as fast as standard LTE are available".
AT&T is being taken to task for what some are calling its "fake 5G" technology.
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.
"Sprint will have to reconcile its arguments to the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] 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'".
It appears that for now, AT&T is doubling down on the concept that consumers aren't confused by "5G E" and don't believe it's the same as 5G-NR, the technology that most of the industry calls "5G". AT&T has been widely criticized for its 5G E tactic, but there's no indication that the company cares or is even the least bit interested in reversing course.
It was, in fact "a transparent attempt to influence consumers" purchasing decisions by deceiving them into believing that AT&T's network-because it claims to be a 5G wireless network-is more technologically advanced and of higher quality than those of other wireless service providers, including Sprint, ' alleges the complaint.
"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 Ars.
"We introduced 5G Evolution more than two years ago, clearly defining it as an evolutionary step to standards-based 5G", AT&T said. Speaking after his company's quarterly earnings report on Thursday, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said he had concerns.
"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.
AT&T issued its own statement that acknowledged a distinction between its 5GE service and "standards-based 5G" service. "Customers want and deserve to know when they are getting better speeds", AT&T said in response to the lawsuit.
"I don't think AT&T's use of "5G E" is Sprint's biggest problem", Piecyk said.
Both Verizon and T-Mobile have also called out AT&T for its marketing practices.
AT&T and Verizon have a small, early lead thanks to several limited deployments.