If you’re an AT&T subscriber and you looked at your phone lately and got all excited that you’re sporting the 5G icon in your connectivity section, don’t just get all excited yet. Stare a little closer and you’ll see that there’s a small letter e there after 5G. This is because your carrier is trying to confuse us with this latest marketing gimmick that they have, indicating you’re now covered under the “5G Evolution” network, which is a fancy (and misleading) way of saying they’re working on 5G and soon you’ll have it.
Make no mistake, this isn’t really 5G yet. Basically, it’s what other networks are calling LTE Advance or LTE Advance Pro. It has things like 4 x 4 MIMO antennas, 256 QAM, and three-way carrier aggregation to give you faster connectivity, but it’s not really using the actual 5G technology yet. AT&T is not really hiding the fact that it’s not 5G, saying it’s their first step on the road to the much-awaited technology, but it doesn’t really lessen the confusion.
Verizon is quick to call this practice out, although they don’t exactly mention AT&T by name (after all, they’re not T-Mobile). In a blog post entitled “When we say 5G, we mean 5G”, they’re calling on the industry to resist the temptation to “over-hype and under-deliver on the 5G promise.” They specifically ask the broad wireless industry to not label something 5G if it’s not really using the new radio technology. This is obviously a reference to what AT&T is doing.
didn’t realize it was this easy, brb updating pic.twitter.com/dCmnd6lspH
— T-Mobile (@TMobile) January 7, 2019
Now as to whether AT&T will listen and retract their 5G E icons, we’ll have to wait and see. While they make it clear that it’s referring to an “evolution”, not everyone will notice the small e or understand that it’s technically not 5G, so they can expect a lot of confusion and complaints.