5G can offer data speeds up to 50 or 100 times faster than 4G networks.
Sprint will seek a temporary restraining order against AT&T to cease the 5GE commercials and labeling as soon as possible, a lawyer for the company said. AT&T calls this "new" network 5GE.
The war of words between America's top carriers over 5G branding has now devolved into a lawsuit.
AT&T is touting its ability to achieve 1.5 Gbps in a field test using its commercial 5G network at the same time it's defending its use of the "5G E" moniker on phones, something Sprint is suing the operator over. That's because AT&T has made it so that phone manufacturers need to show "5G E" instead of "4G LTE" in some markets. "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", the statement said.
"AT&T is deliberately deceiving consumers into believing that their existing 4G LTE network operates on a coveted and highly anticipated 5G network", a Sprint spokesperson said in a statement.
AT&T does have a mobile 5G network out there in the wild, with an expansion planned for the rest of 2019 and beyond.
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 also been using the "5G E" term in recent advertisements.
AT&T has employed numerous deceptive tactics to mislead consumers into believing that it now offers a coveted and highly anticipated fifth-generation wireless network, known as 5G. 5G E, as AT&T claims, stands for "5G Evolution", or the precursor to the nationwide 5G networks carriers are beginning to build out. Their argument is that 5G Evolution and the 5GE logo "simply let customers know their device is in an area where speeds up to twice as fast as standard LTE are available".
"We introduced 5G Evolution more than two years ago, clearly defining it as an evolutionary step to standards-based 5G", AT&T said. T-Mobile took to Twitter with a hilarious mockery of the branding, slapping a "9G" sticker onto an iPhone. Sprint contends in the lawsuit, published by Engadget, that AT&T is "deliberately deceiving consumers" into thinking their 4G phones have been upgraded to 5G. AT&T offers standards-based 5G in parts of 12 cities, but its first 5G device for sale is a mobile hotspot rather than a phone.
"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.
Shares of AT&T (t) and Sprint (s) were down 1% on Friday in midday trading. "Customers want and deserve to know when they are getting better speeds", AT&T said in response to the lawsuit. Previously, another U.S. operator, T-Mobile also humiliated the official AT&T.
Sprint also claimed in their suit that 54 percent of customers they surveyed believed the "5GE" service was true 5G, further reinforcing their false advertising claim.