What a Difference an 'E' Makes

What happens when you add the letter "E" to 5G, as AT&T plans to do by changing the "LTE" symbol to "5GE"?

According to Sprint—which filed a lawsuit in federal court last week seeking an injunction to stop AT&T from using 5G icons on its devices and ads—AT&T is damaging 5G’s reputation, and hurting Sprint’s sales. In a statement to Engadget, Sprint CTO's John Saw said “AT&T is blatantly misleading consumers.” (In response, AT&T issued a statement saying they introduced 5G Evolution more than two years ago “clearly defining it as an evolutionary step to standards-based 5G.”)

But that 5GE symbol may well lead to user disappointment, according to eMarketer principal analyst Yoram Wurmser. “It makes sense that the major telecom companies are racing to launch 5G networks, but AT&T’s approach is deceptive," he said. "5G Evolution is an advanced version of LTE and could dampen consumer expectations for real 5G networks."

There’s little doubt that true 5G will make a big difference when it arrives. About half of US and UK mobile users polled by Matrixx Software said that 5G availability would influence which carrier they would use, and respondents said they are willing to pay more for the privilege.