AT&T will put a fake 5G logo on its 4G LTE phones

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Noor Imtiaz
Currently a MS student in Healthcare Biotech at Pakistan’s National University of Science and Technology juggling pure science and creative writing. I’m an avid reader who makes more time for books than Netflix.

AT&T planning to dupe its customers into thinking they are using 5G by creating a small logo labelled “5G E” on their phones next year. However, this is simply updated 4G LTE technology. The small E in their logo will stand for “evolution.” However, this trick will deceive users who are likely to overlook the “E,” possibly thinking they are getting 5G service. A report from FierceWireless confirms this news.

5G “Evolution”

AT&T announced their 5G Evolution in October 2017. This was the name they were to give their advanced 4G LTE to subtly advertise it as 5G on false grounds. However, they have now confirmed that they are going to go through with this plan. There will be a 5G E logo on all the advanced 4G LTE phones from next year. All LTE Advanced phones will now have this fake 5G logo. To make matters hilariously worse, AT&T has already dubbed its real (future) 5G tech as “5G+,” whatever that means.

Unfortunately, AT&T has pulled this trick before. When the mobile company was shifting from 3G to 4G, it called a speed-boosted 3G an HSPA+ and people lapped it up thinking they were getting entirely new technology. When on an HSPA+ phone, users got a 4G logo, even though the phone was simply upgraded 3G. This technique of AT&T (and T-Mobile) was supposedly convincing enough that even Apple took part

The Motive

According to a blog post by T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray, the purpose behind the scheme is deception (although he’s really not one to talk). Looking at the mock-up that AT&T has sent, it is easily visible that the E is small enough to be overlooked. Moreover, most of their customers are not likely to know that the E means that it is not really 5G. Ray writes:

“AT&T is so worried about how limited their 5G footprint will be that they’ve renamed their existing LTE network “5G Evolution.” And now, they’re calling their super limited mmW deployment ‘5G+.’ I’ve heard they even have plans to show a 5G network indicator for LTE on consumers’ devices to hide the fact that actual 5G will be scarce, duping customers into thinking they’re getting something they’re not.”

Analysts are concerned that the motive behind this deception is winning the inevitable advertisement wars in a world which will soon shift its focus to 5G. Just to get the title of introducing 5G first, AT&T is willing to go to these lengths. They hope that buyers will be willing to invest in a fake 5G phone just to feel like they are using the technology before anyone else. 

AT&T’s Defense

In response to the report, a vague statement from AT&T has been making the rounds. It claims that the small E meaning Evolution is enough to understand that the technology is evolving towards 5G, but it is not quite there yet.

AT&T has customers in hundreds of markets around the world. This means that potentially millions of people will see the misleading 5G E logo. Real 5G will be scarce next year. This deliberate mis-branding could, therefore, decide the future for AT&T’s sales.

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