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February 8, 2019
US operator Sprint is so outraged by AT&T’s attempt to rebrand its LTE-A service as 5Ge that it’s taking its competitor to court over it.
Sprint has filed a suit against AT&T in New York, as first reported by Engadget. You can see the full complaint at the bottom of that report but, as ever, it’s needlessly lengthy and legalese so here’s an attempt to summarise it in words of one syllable.
AT&T is accused of numerous acts of deliberate deception around its attempt to promote its LTE Advanced service as ‘5G Evolution’. There is the outright lie involved in suggesting something is 5G when it isn’t and then there’s the damage done to Sprint competitively and the outright damage done to the US telecoms market by deceiving it into thinking 5G is already here.
The complaint notes that ‘AT&T has yet to deliver a contiguous mobile 5G network or release a 5G-enabled mobile phone or tablet capable of connecting directly to a 5G network.’ And yet is went ahead with this 5Ge marketing campaign regardless, which Sprint says is ‘false and misleading’.
It was, in fact ‘a transparent attempt to influence consumers’ purchasing decisions by deceiving them into believing that AT&T’s network—because it claims to be a 5G wireless network—is more technologically advanced and of higher quality than those of other wireless service providers, including Sprint,’ alleges the complaint.
The three main material complaints are that:
AT&T is engaged in false advertising
AT&T is therefore deceiving the public
AT&T is directly harming Sprint through this deception
So what does Sprint want the court to do about it? The hilarious legal jargon calls this the ‘prayer for relief’. Sprint wants AT&T to be prevented from using ‘5G’ in any of its ads until it’s proper 5G and it wants as much cash as possible in damages. Ultimately Sprint wants its complaint to result in a full-blown jury trial, which could get very interesting if it’s granted. There didn’t seem to have been any public response from AT&T at time of writing.
As the Editorial Director of Telecoms.com, Scott oversees all editorial activity on the site and also manages the Telecoms.com Intelligence arm, which focuses on analysis and bespoke content.
Scott has been covering the mobile phone and broader technology industries for over ten years. Prior to Telecoms.com Scott was the primary smartphone specialist at industry analyst Strategy Analytics’. Before that Scott was a technology journalist, covering the PC and telecoms sectors from a business perspective.
Follow him @scottbicheno
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