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Verizon and T-Mobile Take Swipe at AT&T Over Its ‘5G E’ Upgrade

AT&T’s “5G E” service—which is not actually connected to a new 5G network—was launched in December. And competitors Verizon and T-Mobile aren’t impressed.

Verizon has promised to only label products “5G” if the device is actually delivering improved performance equal to 5G capabilities.

“We won’t take an old phone and just change the software to turn the 4 in the status bar into a 5,” Kyle Malady, Verizon’s chief technology officer, wrote in a post Monday.

T-Mobile also mocked the “5G E” upgrade by joking you could upgrade your phone to 9G by putting a sticky note on it, and now Verizon is openly rejecting AT&T’s tactics.

AT&T recently updated its phones to replace “LTE” with “5G E.” The phones are not actually connected to a new 5G network—5G E stands for 5G Evolution, a rebranding of the faster portions of LTE.

In the spirit of maintaining customer trust, Verizon called on the entire wireless industry to label something 5G “only if new device hardware is connecting to the network using new radio technology to deliver new capabilities” [Verizon’s emphasis].

“If network providers, equipment manufacturers, handset makers, app developers and others in the wireless ecosystem engage in behavior designed to purposefully confuse consumers, public officials and the investment community about what 5G really is, we risk alienating the very people we want most to join in developing and harnessing this exciting new technology,” wrote Malady.

Of course, some are saying Verizon’s announcement is just covering up the fact that it launched a “5G” home service in October 2018 that actually isn’t the real, global standard for 5G. The home service uses Verizon’s own standard for 5G, which is similar, but not the same.

According to PCMag, however, Verizon plans to switch to the global standard sometime this year, with new equipment free to customers.