AT&T to halt '5G Evolution' advertising, but the icon will remain

Joanna Estrada
May 23, 2020

A National Advertising Review Board panel has encouraged AT&T to stop using its misleading "5G Evolution" branding.

AT&T debuted its 5GE branding toward the end of 2018 with "5GE" icons attached to the signal bars on smartphones.

While AT&T and other wireless carriers in the United States. have now begun rolling true 5G wireless networks, AT&T in December 2018 began talking about a "5G Evolution" service that was already available in hundreds of markets, and placed a "5G E" icon on phones when they connected to the network. AT&T's angle was that 5GE would be its stepping stone to true 5G because they include some of the same technologies like 256 QAM, 3-way carrier aggregation, and 4X4 MIMO. The carrier also talked about 5G Evolution in its marketing materials.

The company has previously argued that it introduced the 5G Evolution idea as a first step in the transition to the next generation of wireless networks. NAD is the investigative unit that reviews national advertising across mediums as part of the industry's self-regulation system.

AT&T's marketing ploy looks even sillier when you factor in that the company has a real 5G network it's now trying to market to consumers as a faster and more reliable alternative to Verizon's. "5G Evolution" is on the company's website, and AT&T phones carry a "5G E" icon when you connect to the 4G network.

In a statement to MacRumors, AT&T noted that it's not now using the "5G Evolution" branding in any of its advertising anyway, but did not confirm or deny whether it will stop using the "5G E" icon on the iPhone and other smartphones. although it certainly seems that this latest decision may be enough for Apple to insist that AT&T agree to remove the misleading label from the iPhone as well. The NARB Panel agreed with NAD's analysis and concluded that the term "Evolution" is not likely to alert consumers to the fact that the service is not 5G.

AT&T said it disagrees with the decision, but will comply, according to the opinion.

AT&T has agreed to stop advertising 5GE, but that's an easy decision to make.

In reality, 5G-E is a LTE network.

AT&T, however, had already stopped running 5G Evolution TV advertisements and a new postpaid competition report from Wave7 Research indicates much of the carrier's in-store signage is focused on "Building 5G on America's best network".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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