What's more, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson appeared on CNBC today and said that the company is "comfortable" with what it's doing and that they are "being very clear with our customers that this is an evolutionary step". Sprint is the only major carrier that AT&T beat in that ranking.
In a lawsuit first discovered by Engadget, Sprint accuses AT&T of employing "numerous deceptive tactics to mislead consumers into believing that it now offers a coveted and highly anticipated fifth generation wireless network, known as 5G".
The basics here are that AT&T believes what they are doing is fine.
"AT&T's "5G E" network is not, in fact, a 5G wireless network, nor does AT&T sell a single 5G-enabled mobile phone or tablet", Sprint wrote.
Last month, AT&T customers saw a "5G E" logo on their mobile devices in over 400 markets - even though they were still on a 4G network.
Sprint has filed a lawsuit against competitor AT&T over the latter's use of "5G E" branding on certain phones. Instead, this is AT&T's sneaky way of branding their improved 4G LTE technology, which may now be slightly faster due to carrier aggregation and 4x4 MIMO antennas.
Sprint also claimed in their suit that 54 percent of customers they surveyed believed the "5GE" service was true 5G, further reinforcing their false advertising claim.
AT&T is touting its ability to achieve 1.5 Gbps in a field test using its commercial 5G network at the same time it's defending its use of the "5G E" moniker on phones, something Sprint is suing the operator over.
"If I now occupy beachfront real estate in our competitors' heads, that makes me smile", he said. 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. A Sprint spokesperson reportedly told Fung the company "didn't approach the FTC as it believes the lawsuit is the quickest way to get relief".
"We introduced 5G Evolution more than two years ago, clearly defining it as an evolutionary step to standards-based 5G", AT&T said. The 5G, or fifth generation, mobile network will offer faster speeds and connectivity, as well as larger capacity, Sprint said in its suit. "That's what 5G Evolution is, and we are delighted to deliver it to our customers". But AT&T hasn't yet flipped the switch on its standards-based 5G network, and there are no 5G-capable phones on the market. "Customers want and deserve to know when they are getting better speeds", AT&T said in response to the lawsuit.
"Sprint will have to reconcile its arguments to the FCC that it can not deploy a widespread 5G network without T-Mobile while simultaneously claiming in this suit to be launching 'legitimate 5G technology imminently, '" AT&T said.
In the lawsuit, which tech news website Engadget obtained and posted online, Sprint asked for a jury trial and said AT&T is breaking federal and state laws on false advertising and deception.
T-Mobile also hit out at the firm, accusing it of "duping customers" with the move.
Sprint's complaint notes that all four major U.S. wireless carriers offer the same LTE-Advanced features as AT&T's "5G E" network and that "currently, there are no 5G-enabled mobile phones or tablets available for sale or lease to consumers".