For some time now, AT&T has marketed its LTE-Advanced network as “5GE,” with the “E” referring to the evolution from LTE to 5G. In addition to using the phrasing in advertising and public comment, AT&T also worked with device OEMs to push out “5GE” on-screen indicators. All of this was received incredibly poorly by telecom media and analysts, AT&T’s competitors and the industry at large.
The complaint is simple: Consumers aren’t sophisticated enough to know that 5GE refers to LTE with the addition of features like 4X4 MIMO and 256 QAM, and does not refer to a network based on the 3GPP 5G New Radio standard.
The branding was described by Sprint as “deceptive,” when they took AT&T to court over 5GE. While that particular spat was ultimately settled, the issue was not. In fact, it was taken up by the a watchdog group that’s part of the Better Business Bureau. T-Mobile took the issue to the National Advertising Division of the BBB.
The National Advertising Review Board this week, which describes itself as “the appellate unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation,” found that 5GE advertising “will mislead reasonable consumers into believing that AT&T is offering a 5G network and recommended that the claims be discontinued.”
AT&T said it “respectfully disagrees with the reasoning and result reached” by the NARB but “as a supporter of the self-regulatory process, it will comply with the NARB’s decision.” Although, as reported by Light Reading, the indicator will remain as it wasn’t specifically covered in the review process.
And it’s not even June but Android Police Editor in Chief David Ruddock already has a strong contender for funniest sub-head of the year with, “5Get the hell out of here with that nonsense.”
—RCR Wireless News