AT&T refuses to remove misleading ‘5GE’ notification from iPhones

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No matter what your AT&T iPhone says, everyone else says “5G E” is 4G.
5G Evolution isn’t 5G, but the 5GE icon isn’t going away.
Photo: Cult of Mac/@Siddavarapu

After an arbitration panel on Wednesday called AT&T’s use of the phrase “5G Evolution” in its advertising misleading, the company agreed to stop using it. However, iPhone and Android devices connected to this telecom’s upgraded 4G LTE network will reportedly continue to display a “5GE” icon.

AT&T agrees to not stop using ‘5GE’

The National Advertising Review Board, a unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation, yesterday determined that the phrase 5G Evolution will “mislead reasonable consumers into believing that AT&T is offering a 5G network.” The telecom said it will comply with the NARB’s decision.

However, AT&T won‘t stop putting the “5GE” logo on iPhones and Androids that are connected to its enhanced 4G LTE network, according to LightReading. The company’s justification is that this notification isn’t advertising.

5GE isn’t 5G

A year ago, AT&T branded an improved version of 4G LTE as 5G Evolution. The telecom calls it “The First Step to 5G.”

iPhone and Android handsets soon afterward started showing a 5GE icon when connected to AT&T’s LTE network with 4×4 MIMO, Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (256 QAM) and other enhancements.

Other carriers objected, as they reserve the term 5G to mean a completely different, and much faster, technology. T-Mobile complained to the National Advertising Division, and won every time. But only a partial victory, as AT&T intends to continue to prominently use 5GE branding.