If you’re an AT& T customer who’s using a newer iPhone, you might have noticed that it shows a “5GE” icon in place of the usual “LTE.”
This is because Apple recently updated iOS 12.2 to support 5G E. It’s a marketing term that AT& T is using to make its cellular network look faster than other carriers.
It’s A Marketing Term
As the cellular industry becomes more competitive, carriers have to come up with ways to differentiate their networks and offer customers something better than competitors. Every few years, a new generation of network technology is introduced, promising faster speeds and more capacity for devices.
The next wave of 5G will use a different radio frequency and provide higher-speed connections that are much more efficient at using bandwidth than 4G. That means that 5G networks will be able to handle more data at once, which could lead to a new era of internet-of-things networks with connected sensors and machines.
In addition, 5G networks will be able to support variable speeds based on what each device needs. For example, a smartphone might need high bandwidth for streaming video while an ATM might only want a low-bandwidth connection that’s reliable and infrequent.
However, many people confuse the term “5G” with the rebranded version of LTE called 5G E. That’s not actually 5G, but it’s a way for AT& T to make its network seem more up-to-date while also capitalizing on the hype surrounding 5G technology.
This misleading practice was even caught by Sprint, which filed a lawsuit against AT&T last week claiming the carrier’s marketing is damaging 5G and causing confusion among consumers. The suit claims that AT&T’s “5GE” network is not 5G at all, but instead a rebranded version of its LTE Advanced Pro and Advanced Pro Ultra Capacity technologies that aren’t even close to the true 5G standards set forth by 3GPP.
It’s not 5G
5G has become a hot topic in recent months, as smartphone manufacturers and internet service providers roll out new technologies designed to improve speed and capacity on cellular networks. These innovations are expected to dramatically increase cellular data speeds, lower latency, and reduce lag in games and other apps. But the term “5G” has also been used in a confusing way by some wireless carriers to suggest their network is different from the competition.
In some cases, carriers will use a symbol like “5G E” to indicate their upcoming 4G LTE networks that feature extra features designed to increase speed and capacity. This is typically the case when a company launches a new version of their 4G LTE network in a particular area, or when a carrier rolls out a new LTE Advanced Pro network that’s capable of faster speeds.
But in AT&T’s case, the company decided to change that indicator on a few Android phones and iPhones that connect to its so-called “5G Evolution” network to make it look like they’re actually connected to a 5G cell tower. That may have confused some AT&T customers, who were expecting their devices to switch over to real 5G speeds based on this indicator alone.
It’s not a technology
You may have noticed that some iPhones and newer Android phones show “5G E” as a status bar icon instead of the usual LTE. That’s because AT&T has a new version of its network that’s called 5G Evolution.
It’s a rebranded version of LTE Advanced, which offers faster download speeds than standard 4G LTE. It has three-way carrier aggregation and MIMO technology. It also has 256 QAM, which allows more data to be transmitted in a shorter period of time.
That means it can handle much faster video streaming and gaming, and it’s also expected to handle things like self-driving cars and connected sensors in the home. But there’s one problem: That super high-frequency spectrum isn’t great for range, so it needs to be used in conjunction with a different set of airwaves.
As a result, carriers will have to install more small cellular radios around the places they plan to cover with 5G. These can be a nuisance to people who don’t want them near their homes, especially if they’re near trees or other obstructions.
Thankfully, there are some technologies that help carriers get around these issues, such as beam forming on millimeter wave spectrum. That helps transmit data in a way that will get around any obstructions, making it easier to offer 5G.
It’s not a network
You might have noticed a new icon in your iPhone status bar that says “5g e,” and you might be wondering what does this mean. The term 5g e was introduced by AT&T in an effort to confuse customers with a misleading name for their enhanced 4G LTE network.
It’s not the first time a wireless carrier has rebranded its network with a new logo or label. Sprint branded its WiMax network as a 4G network before it switched to 4G LTE, and T-Mobile rebranded its 3G HSPA+ network as 4G before switching to LTE.
AT&T has rebranded its LTE Advanced and Advanced Pro networks as “5g e.” This is a misleading label that has caused some confusion, and even anger. It’s a marketing move meant to make it seem like AT&T’s network is ahead of the competition by several years, but it’s actually not true.
The problem is that AT&T’s enhanced LTE Advanced network does not meet the technical and speed standards that are used to classify 5G. And speed tests show that it’s actually slower than Verizon’s and T-Mobile’s networks.
This is especially true if you’re using a smartphone that can access LTE-A technologies, which includes features like 4×4 MIMO and 256 QAM. These features allow smartphones to transmit data faster than standard LTE hardware.
These features also help to increase battery life. That’s because the phones aren’t constantly scanning for signal strength, and so they don’t have to keep sending and receiving data all the time.