AT&T’s ‘5G E’ speeds are slower than LTE on other networks

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No matter what your AT&T iPhone says, everyone else says “5G E” is 4G.
No matter what your AT&T iPhone says, everyone else says “5G E” is 4G.
Photo: Cult of Mac/@Siddavarapu

Customers on AT&T’s ‘5G E’ networks aren’t getting the huge speed gains promised by one of the nation’s largest carriers.

In an attempt to get a headstart on the 5G wave, AT&T has renamed a large portion of its 4G network to ‘5G E.’ The carrier calls it 5G Evolution and says its the first step towards the 20Gbps speeds promised by 5G, but a recent study found that AT&T’s 5G E network is actually slower than LTE Advanced speeds on other carriers.

Look at how mediocre AT&T’s speeds are:


lte speeds
AT&T vs T-Mobile vs Verizon vs Sprint
Photo: OpenSignal

OpenSignal published its LTE speed findings today after compiling data from more than 1 million user-initiated speed tests. The results show that AT&T’s “5G E” phones get average speeds of 28.8Mbps, while T-Mobile’s get 29.4Mbps and Verizon’s get 29.9Mbps. Sprint struggles with the lowest Adanved LTE speeds, scoring an average of 20.4Mbps.

AT&T’s ‘5G E’ network

Even though AT&T is using the same technology as T-Mobile and Verizon’s Advanced LTE networks, there are some benefits when your phone’s status bar shows it being on ‘5G E’ vs ‘LTE’ on AT&T.

“Our analysis shows that AT&T customers with 5G E in their status bars are receiving up to a 60 percent boost in speeds over AT&T customers without it,” OpenSignal CEO Brendan Gill told ArsTechnica. “Of course, our analysis also shows that the same is true for the equivalent Verizon and T-Mobile customers even though they don’t see a ‘5G E’ label on their device. Bottom line, if one service is offering a meaningful boost over another, it probably should be labeled differently, just not with a name that confuses customers.”

AT&T has told customers that 5G E brings customers 2x faster speeds than standard LTE but that doesn’t appear to be the case yet. Most carriers aren’t expected to rollout their true 5G networks until fall 2019. Even in those cases the rollout is expected to be pretty limited with most cities not getting 5G until 2020 at the earliest.