Sprint Sues AT&T Over 5G Branding

Sprint Sues AT&T Over 5G Branding

Sprint argues that by making the false claim that it is offering a 5G wireless network where it offers only a 4G LTE Advanced network, AT&T is attempting to secure an unfair advantage in the saturated wireless market.

Shares of Sprint were down 0.76 percent while shares of AT&T were down 0.58 percent as of 1:20 p.m. EST on Friday.

Verizon also weighed in on AT&T's 5G marketing efforts. AT&T calls this "new" network 5GE. It is much slower than what an actual mobile 5G network will provide later. Competing carriers cried foul as 5G E is little more than extension of 4G LTE technology and is in no way true 5G.

No ordinary phones on the market can yet connect to faster 5G networks, but several are expected soon from Samsung, Lenovo's Motorola, and others. According to Sprint, the "5G E" logo displayed on customers' phones doesn't mean that they would benefit from 5G technology, which is not yet available in the United States. Verizon used old-school tactics to demonstrate their outrage, taking out a lengthy full-page ad in multiple national newpapers. The carrier is now in the process of trying to merge with rival T-Mobile. 5G networks promise major upgrades in connection speed, reliability, and reductions in latency over 4G LTE networks. Sprint has filed a lawsuit in federal court, seeking an injunction preventing AT&T from using the 5GE icon on its smartphones.

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"The reality is that this network isn't "new" and "5G E" is a false and misleading term", a spokesperson for Sprint said in a statement to CNBC. Sprint is also looking for the court to determine if damages should be paid out in the lawsuit.

The federal suit, filed in the U.S. District Court of NY, wants AT&T to remove its "5Ge" logo from both marketing and its phones.

While this lawsuit may come off sounding like sour grapes from Sprint, they do have a point. Another 43% of consumers believe that if they buy an AT&T smartphone today, they will have a 5G network. AT&T and T-Mobile were upgrading their 3G smartphones to show 4G. Sprint is less cool with it than Verizon and T-Mobile and has made a decision to file a lawsuit in federal court to try and stop AT&T from using its sneaky, completely made-up evolutionary network technology term. Or perhaps they love the number five and the letters "G" and "E". We introduced 5G Evolution more than two years ago, clearly defining it as an evolutionary step to standards-based 5G. 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. "So we're characterizing this as 5GE, 5G Evolution". AT&T is planning to fight this lawsuit, while it continues to deploy 5GE, as well as its regular mobile 5G network. "Customers want and deserve to know when they are getting better speeds", AT&T said.

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.

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