AT&T's controversial new 5G E icon officially began rolling out to Android phones this week, and the other three major U.S. carriers are roasting AT&T over it.
First up, T-Mobile responded to this news with a brief video that shows it sticking a "9G" label to an iPhone. "Didn't realize it was this easy, brb updating", T-Mobile tweeted in response to the news that AT&T was adding a 5G E icon to its phones.
didn’t realize it was this easy, brb updating pic.twitter.com/dCmnd6lspH
— T-Mobile (@TMobile) January 7, 2019
Verizon took a slightly more serious approach, putting up a blog post with a pledge for both itself and the rest of the wireless industry. "That’s why we’re calling on the broad wireless industry to commit to labeling something 5G only if new device hardware is connecting to the network using new radio technology to deliver new capabilities," Verizon said. "We won’t take an old phone and just change the software to turn the 4 in the status bar into a 5. We will not call our 4G network a 5G network if customers don’t experience a performance or capability upgrade that only 5G can deliver."
Verizon went on to say that if carriers, device makers, and other companies in the wireless industry confuse consumers, "we risk alienating the very people we want most to join in developing and harnessing this exciting new technology."
And then there's Sprint, who issued a statement to Engadget that "AT&T is blatantly misleading consumers -- 5GE is not real 5G." The carrier went on to say that it will launch "real 5G that is standards-based" in the first half of this year.
AT&T is in the process of adding a 5G E icon to its Android phones that support its 5G Evolution coverage. The issue that many are taking with the move is that 5G Evolution is not actually 5G, but is made up of advanced 4G LTE technologies like 4x4 MIMO, 256 QAM, amd 3-way carrier aggregation that can boost download speeds. AT&T hasn't responded to any of the criticism being hurled its way, so it's unclear if AT&T will continue on with this effort or if all of this attention has made it have a change of heart.