In an apparent effort to reverse months of negative publicity, AT&T today took another step to counter the debate over its “5G Evolution” service, defending the tangible improvements the new technology brings to its network. Only days after settling a deceptive marketing lawsuit brought by Sprint, AT&T is now waving off both competitors and media commentators, saying that “5G Evolution is a lot more than just a name,” and delivers up to twice the speeds of standard AT&T LTE.
Today’s release builds upon dismissive references previously made by CEO Randall Stephenson, who has maintained that AT&T is unconcerned about rivals’ distaste for its branding, since the underlying network improvements benefit consumers. Now AT&T is shrugging off media complaints, as well. “Our competitors don’t like these facts. Some pundits and reporters aren’t fans of the name, either,” it says. “But we believe the performance of our network speaks for itself.”
There’s little question that AT&T brought the ongoing controversy upon itself by branding a collection of late-stage 4G technologies as “5G E,” a name that journalists, rival carriers, and customers called confusing, if not outright misleading. While all of AT&T’s competitors have brought similar improvements to their networks, AT&T explicitly badges its 5G E connections on Android devices and iPhones, and differentiates between speeds customers get on its 5G E and non-5G E hardware.
Unfortunately for AT&T, the negativity over branding has overshadowed the scope of the networking improvements, which the carrier notes include additional radio spectrum backed by more fiber optic cabling and network core upgrades, plus LTE Advanced features including multi-frequency aggregation, multi-antenna 4X4 MIMO, and 256 QAM signal densification technologies. The carrier also notes, again, that its 5G E towers and radios are now only a software upgrade away from serving 5G customers — “when 5G is ready.”
But none of these changes is unique to AT&T, and though the carrier touts recent network speed tests as establishing that it has the “fastest” or “best” wireless network following its 5G E deployments, the differences between AT&T and its strongest competitors are minor. The ongoing debate over 5G E has also distracted from AT&T’s actual 5G network, which has debuted in parts of 19 cities, albeit solely for business customers.