In an interview with Tom's Guide, AT&T's Senior Vice President for Wireless Technology, Igal Elbaz, stated that the carrier isn't trying to mislead its customers. Although there are now industry standards specifying exactly what 5G networks must meet, dubbed "5G NR", there are still some grey areas, particularly when it comes to marketing.
"5G Evolution", or 5G E, is not true 5G. The speed and strength with which Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile pushed back on AT&T's claims about its 5G capabilities demonstrates the priority that 5G holds in their plans for 2019 and beyond. Instead, it's based on its own take of 5G technology.
In this blog post, Verizon is calling on the wireless industry to only label something 5G "if new device hardware is connecting to the network using new radio technology to deliver new capabilities". And Tom's Guide rightfully points out that people with 5G E devices will still need to buy 5G devices anyway if they want real 5G. From the outside looking in, it appears AT&T is intentionally trying to deceive customers by playing loosey-goosey with the 5G nomenclature.
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And Elbaz' response to the accusations of misleading "5G E" labeling?
AT&T will expand its deal with Magic Leap - a company building augmented reality goggles - to include business solutions in addition to consumer offerings. Verizon said early last year that its LTE Advanced tech was available in 1,100 different markets, while T-Mobile announced more than a year ago back in November 2017 that its LTE Advanced network was live in almost 1,000 cities across the US. But this one essentially showed T-Mobile taking a small Post-It note that said "9G" and putting it on an iPhone XS to upgrade the network to 9G.
US telecommunications giant AT&T has been criticized by its rivals for misleading consumers into believing that its upgraded 4G service is 5G. AT&T will also use millimeter-wave spectrum for higher speeds, but didn't provide details on when that will go live or how extensively it will be deployed.