AT&T, Sprint Settle ‘5GE’ False Advertising Suit

Sprint and AT&T have agreed to settle Sprint’s lawsuit seeking to stop AT&T from advertising its upgraded fourth-generation service as “5G Evolution” or “5GE.”

The backstory: Sprint alleged that AT&T’s marketing of its enhanced 4G network was in essence, “fake 5G” and misleading consumers. Sprint wasn’t the only carrier irritated with AT&T’s claim and marketing strategy, Verizon and T-Mobile also took swipes at AT&T’s claims.

The companies were scheduled to duke it out in Federal court on Monday morning, largely to determine whether Sprint could block AT&T from continuing to market the enhanced 4G network as “5G Evolution” or “5GE” until the carrier could prove what it was offering met fifth-generation standards. An AT&T representative announced on Monday that “the parties have amicably resolved this matter.”

Aside from a similar short statement from Sprint Corp., the carriers declined to give any details on the terms of their agreement, but a source told Law360 that AT&T will continue to use “5G Evolution” in its ads and marketing. Read the full story at Law360.

Analyst take: I have mixed feelings on the lawsuit, the settlement and the undisclosed terms that coincided. I felt that Sprint, while perhaps an aggressive move, was in the right to bring the lawsuit against AT&T. With so much at stake for the carriers, Sprint had every right to be concerned about the perception that their inroads to 5G were lagging significantly behind AT&T. The undisclosed settlement puts a bit of a damper on the effort as I would like to understand what Sprint and AT&T felt the value of this deceptive marketing was worth, especially as it pertained to Sprint and other competitors in the U.S. like Verizon and T-Mobile.

With real 5G hitting the market in select markets, I believe the 5GE marketing of AT&T will continue to cause confusion and the fact they are carrying forward with the campaign, will likely leave a lot of users who think they are getting 5G speeds on what are really 4G LTE networks to see 5G negatively. I stand by the belief that AT&T should not be allowed to use 5GE so liberally, however, I also believe that their doing so, without significant penalty has helped the company appear to be innovating at a greater rate than their competitors.

Daniel Newman

Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. From Big Data to IoT to Cloud Computing, Newman makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology projects, which leads to his ideas regularly being cited by CNBC, Barrons, Business Insider and hundreds of other sites across the world. A 6x Best-Selling Author including his most recent “Futureproof, Digital Transformation in the Experience Economy” Daniel is also a Forbes and MarketWatch (WSJ) contriburor. MBA and Graduate Adjunct Professor, Daniel Newman is a Chicago Native and his speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.
Daniel Newman