YOU ARE AT:5GApple bites on AT&T's 5Ge branding

Apple bites on AT&T’s 5Ge branding

5Ge indicator rolling out with latest iOS update

Some AT&T customers with Android handsets have begun seeing a “5Ge” indicator when connected to the operator’s LTE-Advanced network. Now, with its most recent operating system update, Apple users will begin seeing the same thing, according to news reports and Twitter posts.

To be clear: AT&T offers standards-based mobile 5G in parts of 12 markets with support from a mobile hot spot and plans to offer a millimeter wave-compatible handset from OEM Samsung in the first-half of this year. However, AT&T’s so-called “5G Evolution” network uses LTE-A features, including 4×4 MIMO, 256 QAM and multi-channel carrier aggregation.

Throughout 2019, expect to see numerous Android OEMs bring to market 5G smartphones based on Qualcomm’s X50 modem. While Apple hasn’t articulated its plans for a 5G phone, most industry watchers don’t expect a 5G iPhone until sometime in 2020 which, to some extent, is attributed to ongoing disputes between Apple and Qualcomm.

As The Verge put it: “If you can’t beat them, you roll out a software update to make it look like you did even though the phones and the network are still exactly the same.”

Despite Apple lagging on the 5G front, according to research from PCMag, 42% of 2,500 U.S. consumers survey think Apple is the leading 5G OEM, while Samsung was seen by 29% as the leader—results that are in direct contrast to market realities.

AT&T is very much aware of the controversy surrounding its “5Ge” branding, and AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan, speaking during a keynote presentation at the Consumer Electronics Show last month in Las Vegas, Nevada, defended the move calling rival operators “frustrated” and saying AT&T now occupies “beachfront real estate” in competitors’ heads.

Donovan described the U.S. wireless industry as “born on superlatives. We were really proud in December that we got a real device that you could buy in a store and a real network in 12 cities and we got 5G up, commercial, standards-based, and that was a first. I think we really frustrated our competitors last month.”

He continued: “We were here two years ago…and we said that we were gonna launch this on-ramp to 5G and we were going to call it 5G Evolution.  And everybody within the industry who competes with us, didn’t like the idea that.”

As to the 5Ge icon, “We felt like we had to give [customers] an indicator that said your speed now is twice what it was with traditional 4G LTE. Every company is guilty of building a narrative. I love the fact we broke our industry’s narrative two days ago.”


Sean Kinney, Editor in Chief
Editor-in-Chief Sean focuses on multiple subject areas including 5G, Open RAN, hybrid cloud, edge computing, and Industry 4.0. He also hosts Arden Media's podcast Will 5G Change the World? Prior to his work at RCR, Sean studied journalism and literature at the University of Mississippi then spent six years based in Key West, Florida, working as a reporter for the Miami Herald Media Company. He currently lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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