Sprint and AT&T settle lawsuit over ‘blatantly misleading’ 5G E logo
By Adi Robertson
AT&T and Sprint have settled a lawsuit over AT&T’s “5G Evolution” branding, which Sprint claimed was fooling customers into believing its 4G LTE network was a full-fledged 5G network. “We have amicably settled this matter,” an AT&T spokesperson told the Dallas Business Journal — which cited anonymous sources saying that AT&T would keep using “5G E” in its marketing material. AT&T and Sprint also confirmed its statement to The Verge.
Earlier this year, AT&T started displaying a “5G E” logo on certain upgraded parts of its LTE network. The phones weren’t actually connecting to 5G networks, and the move was roundly derided: T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint all criticized AT&T’s new logo, with Sprint’s CTO claiming it was “blatantly misleading consumers.”
AT&T WILL KEEP USING ‘5G E’ IN ITS MARKETING MATERIAL
A month later, Sprint sued AT&T for false advertising, citing a survey where more than half of participants (incorrectly) said AT&T’s 5G E network had comparable speeds to real 5G. This was a bitter pill for Sprint, which is supposedly just a month away from launching its own 5G network. AT&T defended itself from the charges, arguing that it had clearly distinguished the term from normal 5G, and that “customers want and deserve to know when they are getting better speeds.”
Both companies declined to discuss the agreement beyond noting that it was amicable, so we don’t know what the terms of the settlement were. It doesn’t sound like AT&T is changing its practices, and we don’t know whether it compensated Sprint in some way, or if Sprint essentially just dropped the case.
5G is still more promise than reality for most customers. Verizon has rolled out a network in Chicago and Minneapolis, but it’s extremely spotty. T-Mobile delayed its main 5G launch to the second half of the year, when it will have phones that take advantage of the network. AT&T debuted a true 5G network back in December, and it’s available in 19 cities. But you can’t use it with any phones yet, just a mobile hotspot that’s not widely available.
Even though all the carriers have been arguably guilty of over-hyping their 5G progress, though, the “5G E” logo introduction was unusually egregious — and now it looks like AT&T won’t be going to court over it.