The suit says that because consumers are so anticipating 5G - which will be faster and far better than the wireless service they're used to - the ads may now make them believe AT&T is giving it to them.
"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", Sprint said in the complaint. All four companies are racing against each other to field the nation's first true 5G wireless network, and in its lawsuit, Sprint said AT&T is trying to gain an "unfair advantage" with its allegedly misleading marketing. Sprint's argument is that what AT&T is doing is damaging the reputation of 5G, while it works to build out what it calls a " legitimate early entry into the 5G network space".
AT&T's product is "nothing more than" advanced LTE, or an advanced version of what the industry calls 4G Long Term Evolution technology, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of NY. "And I love the fact that we broke our industry's narrative two days ago, and they're frustrated and gonna do what they're gonna do". "It deceives consumers into believing that AT&T's mobile devices operate on a 5G network when, in truth, those "5G E" devices operate on the same 4G LTE Advanced network that those AT&T customers were already using".
AT&T's "5G E" will be tested in court.
AT&T's peers have criticized its use of the "5G E" designation it started displaying on smartphones last month as misleading and "fake 5G", but Sprint's lawsuit filed Thursday takes it up another notch. Rival wireless carrier Sprint is suing the company over its claims, calling 5GE a "false and misleading" label created to deceive customers into thinking AT&T's service is faster and better than others.
AT&T renamed a large portion of its 4G network, calling it "5G E", for "5G Evolution".
It's called LTE advanced and Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile have done the same thing.
At the moment, the ITU defines "5G" as something distinct from LTE.
AT&T stock fell 0.9% on Friday morning, roughly in line with the broader market, while Sprint stock was down 1.6%.
According to the AT&T spokesman, AT&T plans to fight the lawsuit and continue building out a nationwide standards-based 5G network.
Sprint is suing rival network AT&T over the 5G Evolution branding on its phones. It points to a survey conducted by Sprint that says 43 percent of consumers think that if they buy an AT&T phone, it will be 5G capable. 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. That didn't stop AT&T from updating devices on its network to show "5G E" in the status indicator at the top.
Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile agree. "AT&T's "5G E" network is a 4G LTE Advanced network, just like the networks of Sprint and the other major wireless service providers, none of which are mischaracterizing their 4G LTE Advanced networks as 5G".
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