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Sprint sues AT&T over 5G branding

NEW YORK (Reuters): Sprint Corp sued AT&T Inc, saying it was misleading consumers into believing that they were using fifth generation or 5G wireless network, a technology that has not yet been widely deployed.

AT&T customers were seeing “5G E” logo on their mobile devices in over 400 markets. Even though users are still on 4G network, AT&T is calling it 5G Evolution, Sprint said in the lawsuit. 5G can offer data speeds up to 50 or 100 times faster than 4G networks.

Smartphones running on both Android and Apple’s iOS platforms are sporting “5G E” for AT&T customers, even though those phones are not equipped to support 5G.

Sprint said that a survey showed 54% of AT&T’s consumers believed their “5G E” network is the same as or better than a 5G network and 43 percent said if they buy an AT&T phone today, it would be capable of running on 5G.

In response to the lawsuit, AT&T’s Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson said in an interview here with CNBC that the company’s customers are seeing an increase in speed and performance on the “5G E” network and this is a step required to get to “ultimate 5G”.

Last month, Sprint said it plans to release 5G smartphones with Samsung Electronics Co Ltd in the US during the summer, while rival Verizon Communications Inc in December also disclosed similar plans for the first half of 2019.

AT&T did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment.