LTE networks have become so expansive and reliable in the United States that it can be difficult to remember what life was like before 4G LTE. But try, if you will, to recall the ridiculousness that took place just prior to LTE’s proliferation. Wireless carriers in the US were so eager to beat each other to launching 4G LTE networks that they decided to “rebrand” older 3G HSPA+ technology as 4G. It was stupid and annoying, and it was tremendously confusing for consumers.
Well, we have some news for those of you who might not be old enough to have been around to enjoy it. You all get to relive it with us now, because the past is repeating itself. And once again, AT&T is leading the charge following its decision to mislead subscribers by slapping a silly new “5G” icon on 4G smartphones.
The news came out late last year that AT&T was getting ready to push out updates to some Android phones that would replace the LTE logos in their status bars with a new “5G E” logo. No, none of these phones are actually gaining access to new blazing-fast 5G networks. Instead, AT&T decided to rebrand years-old LTE Advanced technology as “5G Evolution.” Ugh.
Slapping a “5G E” logo on LTE phones is misleading and confusing at best. At worst, it’s a flat-out lie. No phones that will be updated to display a 5G E logo will actually be able to connect to any 5G networks. In fact, AT&T doesn’t currently sell any smartphones capable of connecting to its emerging 5G network, only a mobile hotspot.
LTE Advanced is not 5G, despite what AT&T might want you to believe. It’s a 4G technology that has been around for many years. In fact, AT&T’s rivals have even better LTE Advanced coverage than AT&T. Verizon said early last year that its LTE Advanced tech was available in 1,100 different markets, while T-Mobile announced more than a year ago back in November 2017 that its LTE Advanced network was live in nearly 1,000 cities across the US.
So, when T-Mobile caught wind of AT&T’s decision to update LTE Advanced-compatible phones with a fake 5G logo, there was no way it would pass up the opportunity for a good roasting:
didn’t realize it was this easy, brb updating pic.twitter.com/dCmnd6lspH
— T-Mobile (@TMobile) January 7, 2019
T-Mobile’s tweet was funny indeed, and we can’t wait to check out the carrier’s new “9G” phone. But that tweet was also pretty ironic. Why? Well, remember before when we mentioned that US wireless carriers were intentionally misleading customers back before LTE really started rolling out by rebranding 3G HSPA+ technology as 4G? Yeah, T-Mobile was one of the offenders, just like AT&T. In fact, T-Mobile was the worst offender of all, going as far as to make claims in advertising that it had the largest 4G network in the country despite not having any 4G network at all. Oops.