ATT plans to start lying to customers in the near future by claiming that the service they’re receiving is, by some metric, 5G. It will do this by displaying a “5G E” logo in the corner of devices, in which the “E” stands for 5G Evolution. What’s 5G Evolution? It’s exactly the same service as you get right now.
That’s according to FierceWireless, which contacted ATT to ask about the plans. ATT confirmed that customers in markets with 4G LTE technology like 4×4 MIMO and 256 QAM will start seeing the 5G E logo instead.
“If they have one of the latest Android devices and it connects to a tower that’s enabled with 5G Evolution, they’ll soon see a “5G E” indicator pop up on their screen,” an ATT spokesperson wrote in response to questions from FierceWireless. “Initially we’ll roll this out on a handful of devices, with more devices showing the indicator in spring 2019.”
5G is a complex, evolving standard with a lot of moving parts. It uses much larger frequency bands, in aggregate, than 4G LTE ever did. The standard is designed to give companies a path forward from LTE to 5G over a period of time, and to allow for the introduction of faster service as well as to bring connectivity to a much larger class of devices than previously possessed it. 5G, in a word, is complicated.
But “complicated” doesn’t mean there aren’t technologies that are and aren’t 5G. We went through this crap with the 4G logo, which doesn’t actually mean “4G” at all, but instead referred to HSPA+. It was a lie when Sprint, T-Mobile, and ATT advertised these devices as supporting 4G (which was then understood to mean a genuine next-generation data standard), and it’ll be a lie when ATT rebrands its devices to call them 5G E. The performance and overall capabilities of LTE were an order of magnitude removed from what was branded as 4G. This will also be true in the coming year as well.
Companies are taking these steps because they want to market devices and networks as “5G” without actually doing the work to create the products that would justify the marketing. ATT’s 5G E will sit next to its “5G+” offering (that’s reserved for the 5G service that launched last week with partial service in 12 cities if you invest in a ludicrous $500 hotspot and feel like giving ATT $70 a month for 15GB of data).
Off to a rousing start thus far, guys. Seriously.