AT&T, Sprint lawsuit highlights the race to 5G

Sprint, ATT settle 5G lawsuit

AT&T has settled a lawsuit with rival competitor Sprint over its controversial “5G Evolution” branding, The Verge reports.

In early 2017, certain AT&T customers saw a “5G E” icon appear on their devices’ status bars instead of the usual “4G” icon. Many customers understandably thought this meant their devices were, in fact, connecting to a 5G network. 5G E was never really a 5G wireless network, however; 5G E stood for a ‘rebranded’ 4G LTE Advanced network of AT&T’s, much to the outcry of customers and analysts.

Worse yet, independent analysis would later show that the AT&T 5G E network was no faster than T-Mobile, Verizon, or Sprint’s 4G networks.

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Sprint Accepts Settlement

Rival Sprint initiated a lawsuit soon after the announcement of 5G E against AT&T for false advertising.

Sprint’s initial court filing put the company’s claim in stark terms, noting that 4G LTE Advanced “is offered by all other major wireless carriers” and that “[t]he significance of AT&T’s deception cannot be overstated.”

The terms of the settlement were not disclosed, so its magnitude is unknown.

5G Still not an Everyday Reality

5G-capable smartphones have just started to enter the consumer marketplace. The chip sets are so new, when AT&T rolled out its 5G E brand in 2017, virtually all consumer devices on the network were not actually capable of functioning on their own on true 5G.

The Sprint suit noted Sprint’s plans to launch 5G in the U.S. in 2019. Other industry competitors have made moves, too, with Verizon recently announcing 20 U.S. cities where customers will get 5G Ultra Wideband network this year.

5G is expected to revolutionize industry. But with high costs and limited coverage for the moment, it may be better left to the early adopters.

Earlier this month, Intel suddenly dropped out of the 5G chipset market.

5G is still far from an everyday reality, but it likely will be one day. Until then, the race to 5G in the U.S. and abroad is expected to bring growing pains for providers and consumers alike.