Sprint has filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York against rival AT&T alleging its rival has misled consumers by leading them to believe they were using 5G wireless networks, a technology that has not yet been widely deployed.
“By making the false claim that it is offering a 5G wireless network where it offers only a 4G LTE Advanced network, AT&T is attempting to secure an unfair advantage in the saturated wireless market,” Sprint said. The company is seeking to stop AT&T from using the terms “5GE,” “5G E,” or “5G Evolution” for its current wireless network offerings.
“We will fight this lawsuit while continuing to deploy 5G Evolution in addition to standards-based mobile 5G. Customers want and deserve to know when they are getting better speeds,” AT&T said.
Sprint last month announced it planned to release 5G smartphones with Samsung Electronics in the U.S. in the summer. Verizon Communications has announced similar plans for the first half of this year.
Sprint said it commissioned a survey that showed 54% of AT&T’s consumers believed their “5G E” network is the same as or better than a 5G network, and 43% said if they bought an AT&T phone today it would be capable of running on 5G.
“The significance of AT&T’s deception cannot be overstated,” Sprint said in the lawsuit. “By making the false claim that it is offering a 5G wireless network where it offers only a 4G LTE Advanced network, AT&T is attempting to secure an unfair advantage in the saturated wireless market.”
“We feel very comfortable with how we’ve characterized the new service that we’re launching,” AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said in an interview on CNBC. “We’ve obviously done our homework. We’ve done a lot of work around how we characterize this and we’re being very clear with our customers that this is an evolutionary step.”