Over in the U.S AT&T has been using some shady marketing to convince the world it’s leading the pack on the road to next-generation wireless technology — 5G. And one of its executives seems to believe that consumers will love the company’s shadily branded service.
AT&T has begun showing the “5G E” icon on some Android phones, instead of “4G LTE.” AT&T announced in December it was launching this 5G E service, with the aid of hotspots, in 12 cities. It’s supposed to be available in eight more cities early this year. But there’s a slight problem with calling it “5G E” — because carriers aren’t actually ready to flip the switch for smartphone users just yet.
The “E” of “5G E” is crucial. See, it stands for “evolution,” as in a “work in progress.” But there’s still a lot of progress to be made—a whole new infrastructure, for starters.
AT&T’s marketing move has been criticised by tech bloggers and competing carriers as a deceptive way to convince consumers it’s providing something it can’t. But in an interview today with Tom’s Guide, AT&T senior vice president for wireless technology Igal Elbaz defended the strategy.
“We’ve been talking about 5G Evolution for a while now. We were pretty public about what we were doing and what we were deploying,” Elbaz told Tom’s Guide.
“All of our investment in the infrastructure and hardware is all 5G ready, so the moment the 5G software and the 5G devices show up, it’s a software upgrade to our network to enable our customers to move to 5G,” Elbaz told the tech site.
But as Tom’s Guide pointed out, people with “5G E” products will have to get a new device once real 5G is available.
Tom’s Guide editor in chief Mark Spoonauer asked Elbaz if using the term “5G E” is misleading since it’s not actually incorporating 5G technology, and Elbaz explained, “our customers will love [5G E]. What we’re trying to do is let them know that there is an enhanced experience in their market.”
AT&T did not immediately respond to a Gizmodo request for comment on criticism that the term “5G E” is misleading. But apparently, it doesn’t matter if the term is, so long as the customers like it.