AT&T has been promoting its wireless network as “5G Evolution” when it’s not the latest wireless network 5G per se. A division of the Better Business Bureau caught AT&T’s language and found it “will mislead reasonable consumers into believing that AT&T is offering a 5G network.”

Since December 2018, AT&T began talking about a “5G Evolution” service. Meanwhile, true 5G wireless networks were already available in hundreds of markets. The company placed a “5G E” icon on phones when they connected to the network, but it was not 5G. It was only the 4G network with minor speed boosts, at least compared to the fastest type of 5G networks.

The Better Business Bureau that regulates the ad industry recommended the company to stop using “5G Evolution” and “5G Evolution, The First Step to 5G” claims in its marketing. AT&T’s language brought a complaint by the rival company T-Mobile.

AT&T disagreed with the group’s reasoning but adhered to the decision. However, the phrase “5G Evolution” is still on the company’s website, and AT&T phones carry a “5G E” icon when you connect to the 4G network.

AT&T spokeswoman Kate MacKinnon refused to explain how AT&T uses the “5G Evolution” branding today or what would change.

Since then, AT&T has built out an actual 5G network and announced nationwide coverage will be available this summer. But it will be long before most consumers notice as so far only a handful of new phones are 5G-enabled.


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