AT&T’s ‘5GE’ Service No Faster Than LTE From Verizon and T-Mobile

Starting with the iOS 12.2 beta, AT&T began displaying a 5G Evolution or 5GE icon on iPhones, misleading AT&T subscribers into thinking they're getting 5G transfer speeds when in fact, 5G on iPhone is not supported and AT&T has no 5G network as of yet.

AT&T uses the 5GE labeling to describe its 4G LTE networks that offer features like three-way carrier aggregation, 256 QAM, and 4x4 MIMO. These options are in no way limited to AT&T and are offered by other carriers, but no other carrier has chosen to use fake 5G branding.


As should come as no surprise, a recent test from OpenSignal has proven that AT&T's 5GE network is no faster than 4G networks from Verizon and AT&T that have the same speed upgrades.

AT&T users that have a 5GE capable smartphone, which includes modern iPhones and some Android devices, receive a "better experience" than other AT&T users with less capable smartphone models, but those same iPhones and Android devices get similar speeds on other carriers. Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile are all offering the same LTE advancements on iPhones with the newest LTE technology, but only AT&T is confusing customers with 5G branding.
What Opensignal's data shows is the extent to which LTE, or 4G, networks have improved since LTE's original launch. Technologies like carrier aggregation -- where two or more bands are used to simultaneously connect a user's smartphone -- 256 QAM or 4x4 MIMO, which together are normally called LTE Advanced Pro, offer a much faster experience than the initial version of 4G that was launched back in 2009-2011.
AT&T's fake branding has struck a nerve with other carriers, especially Sprint. Sprint has launched a full anti-AT&T campaign, filing a lawsuit against AT&T for its misleading branding and taking out ads in The New York Times.

Sprint rightly claims that AT&T is confusing customers and damaging the understanding of true 5G, which has the potential to impact Sprint's own 5G launch.

5G smartphones are only now just beginning to trickle out, and Apple isn't expected to launch one until 2020. No existing iPhone will be able to connect to a 5G network because it requires new hardware. 5G networks from the four major carriers in the United States will become available starting in 2019, but the technology is still new and there will be many bugs and coverage issues to work out.

Tag: AT&T

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Sprint Takes Out Full Page NYT Ad Calling Out AT&T for Misleading 5GE Branding

Sprint on Sunday took out a full-page ad in The New York Times to call out AT&T for its "5GE" network labeling, which actually offers 4G speeds rather than 5G speeds.

In the letter [PDF], Sprint calls AT&T's 5G Evolution "fake 5G" and clarifies that AT&T is not, in fact, offering faster speeds than other carriers who deliver the same 4G LTE advancements that AT&T has enabled such as three-way carrier aggregation, 256 QAM, and 4x4 MIMO.

While Sprint is working hard to deliver mobile 5G and the first 5G smartphone in the U.S., AT&T is hard at work trying to convince you that they already won the race to 5G with something they call "5G Evolution." That is simply untrue.

Don't be fooled. 5G Evolution isn't new or true 5G. It is fake 5G.

They would love for you to believe they are different ... better. The truth is AT&T is simply offering customers a nationwide 4G LTE network just like Sprint and all the other major wireless carriers. It's not 5G.
AT&T first started upgrading customer iPhones to read "5GE" in the iOS 12.2 beta, and the misleading branding will become much more widespread when iOS 12.2 sees a public release.

Devices in areas with AT&T's "upgraded" LTE will display "5GE" instead of LTE, but it's not real 5G. There is no iPhone that exists right now that is capable of connecting to a 5G network, nor does AT&T offer a true 5G network at this time.

AT&T has defended itself by claiming that 5G Evolution is the "first step on the road to 5G," but customers and other carriers are not impressed with its misleading branding that has the potential to confuse customers when actual 5G networks become available. AT&T has, however, claimed that customers "love" the 5GE branding because they "want and deserve to know" when "better speeds" are available.
"We understand why our competitors don't like what we are doing, but our customers love it. We introduced 5G Evolution more than two years ago, clearly defining it as an evolutionary step to standards-based 5G. 5G Evolution and the 5GE indicator simply let customers know when their device is in an area where speeds up to twice as fast as standard LTE are available. That's what 5G Evolution is, and we are delighted to deliver it to our customers.
Sprint has done more than just take out an ad against AT&T. In early February, Sprint filed a lawsuit in federal court against AT&T in an attempt to prevent AT&T from using the 5GE labeling on AT&T smartphones. Sprint says AT&T is damaging the consumer reputation and understanding of true 5G and potentially hurting Sprint's 5G launch this summer in nine metro areas.

True 5G smartphones won't be coming until later in 2019, and the 5G networks to support them also won't be available until later in the year. Rumors suggest Apple isn't planning to introduce 5G connectivity on its iPhones until 2020 at the earliest, so 5G is not a technology iPhone users will be able to take advantage of in 2019.

Tags: Sprint, AT&T, 5G, 5GE

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DirecTV Now Gains Apple TV App Integration

AT&T today announced that its DirecTV Now service has been updated with support for Apple's TV app.

With TV app integration, DirecTV Now users can take advantage of cross-device episode and movie tracking with the Up Next feature along with tailored content recommendations available on the DirecTV Now service using the Watch Now feature on the Apple TV.

There's so much on-demand content and live sports channels included with your DIRECTV NOW subscription, so the Apple TV app is a great place to help you find something new or jump back into your favorite on-demand show as new episodes arrive or quickly tune to a national sports broadcast.
The integration also means that Siri voice searches can be used to find TV shows and movies on DirecTV Now, which is useful for finding specific content. Siri searches work with the entire DirecTV on-demand library.


Siri also supports live tune-in with DirecTV Now so you can access specific live channels with a command like "Siri, tune in to [your favorite channel]" to open up the DirecTV Now app and turn on the channel.


The final feature included in the integration is single sign-on, which allows DirecTV customers to sign in once with their username and login to access available content across any supported third-party app.

Apple TV users with a DirecTV Now subscription will see a prompt to integrate their data with the TV app after playing a DVR show for the first time. AT&T says that the updates enabling TV app support will be pushed out to DirecTV customers automatically.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 12
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Don't Buy)

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Disney in Talks to Acquire WarnerMedia’s 10% Stake in Hulu, Resulting in 70% Ownership After Fox Acquisition

Disney is in active discussions with AT&T in an effort to acquire the 10 percent ownership stake that WarnerMedia has in Hulu, according to a report by Variety. Disney already owns a 30 percent stake in Hulu, and is soon to gain Fox's 30 percent stake once regulatory approvals for the Disney/20th Century Fox acquisition go through.


This means that if Disney does end up with both AT&T and Fox's stakes, it will own a 70 percent majority of the Hulu streaming service. The last remaining company with a stake is Comcast/NBCUniversal, and in a statement last month NBCU CEO Steve Burke said that "Disney would like to buy us out...I don't think anything's going to happen in the near term."

At this point, it's believed that even with a 70 percent control of Hulu, Disney would leave the platform as it is, focused on general entertainment with TV shows and films for subscribers to watch. In contrast, the upcoming Disney+ streaming service will be the platform where customers can get Disney-focused content in a more family-friendly environment.

For AT&T, the company is said to be looking to sell its minority stake in Hulu as it prepares to launch its own streaming service in late 2019. This service will be divided into three tiers: "one focused on movies; one with movies plus original programming; and a third tier comprising content from the first two along with WarnerMedia library content and licensed programming."

Apple's own entry into the streaming service market will happen soon, as the company plans to introduce its TV service at an event on March 25. While we will likely gain a lot of information about the service at that time, it's not expected to launch until the summer or fall of 2019.

Tags: AT&T, Disney, Hulu

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Deals Spotlight: AT&T Offering Apple TV 4K At No Cost When Signing Up for Fiber Internet

AT&T has kicked off a new Apple TV 4K promotion, this one tied to the company's Fiber Internet service. For the month of February, anyone who signs up for AT&T Fiber Internet 300 or Fiber Internet 1000 will have the chance to get a 32GB Apple TV 4K at no cost. Shoppers should note that the deal is contingent upon AT&T Fiber being available in your area.

Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with AT&T. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

AT&T Fiber Internet 300 costs $70/month and Fiber Internet 1000 costs $90/month, and both plans require customers to sign up for a twelve-month agreement. For Fiber Internet 300, customers will have a 1TB monthly data cap, and a $10 charge for each additional 50GB of data they need if they exceed their cap. Fiber Internet 1000 has no data cap.

To get the new deal, head to ATT.com, click "Check Availability," and enter your address. Those eligible for the deal and in an area supported by AT&T Fiber will then see the plans available to purchase. Choose either the 300 Mbps or 1000 Mbps tier, and during the checkout screen enter the promo code GET4KTV to add the Apple TV 4K to your order at no additional cost.


If you've been planning to switch to Fiber Internet, AT&T's new promo is a great chance to save a lot of money on a brand-new Apple TV 4K. At 32GB, these models currently sell for around $170 at places like B&H Photo.

AT&T previously offered a notable discount on the 32GB Apple TV 4K during a DirecTV Now promotion, which required customers to prepay for 3 months of DirecTV Now at $105 to get an Apple TV at no cost. The company has since ended this offer, and during a recent earnings report AT&T stated that DirecTV Now saw a large decline in subscribers after the deal ended.

Anyone interested in the new offer should visit AT&T's website to browse Fiber Internet packages, and be sure to head to our full Deals Roundup to check out more sales happening this week.

Related Roundup: Apple Deals
Tag: AT&T

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AT&T Sued by Sprint for Misleading ‘5GE’ Branding

Sprint has filed a lawsuit in federal court against AT&T for its false "5G Evolution" claims that appeared on some iPhones in iOS 12.2 beta 2 earlier this week, and on Android phones in January (via Engadget). AT&T says that this "5GE" label indicates to customers when they are in an area where 5G Evolution "may be available," but it's really just an upgraded version of 4G LTE, because any form of 5G on an iPhone is impossible at this point.


Apple will have to release new hardware to support 5G services, a launch that isn't expected until 2020. Because of this, Sprint has filed an injunction to prevent AT&T from using 5GE tags on its devices or in advertising, claiming that AT&T is damaging the consumer reputation and understanding of true 5G, and potentially hurting Sprint's upcoming launch of 5G in the process.

In the claim, Sprint explains that it commissioned a survey and found that 54 percent of consumers believed that the "5GE" networks were the same as, or even better, than true 5G. Forty-three percent thought that if they purchased an AT&T smartphone today it will be 5G capable, both of which are not true.

Now, Sprint wants to stop AT&T from damaging the 5G brand while it builds a "legitimate early entry into the 5G network space." Like every other network carrier, Sprint has been working on a wide-scale 5G network that has previously been said to launch in late 2019. True 5G networks will grant users faster data speeds and lower latency on compatible smartphones and other cellular devices.

For Apple, the company won't release an iPhone that can connect to 5G data networks until at least 2020. While other companies will begin supporting 5G in smartphones in 2019, Apple is delaying support due to expected issues with early 5G launches, like poor coverage. Apple took the same strategy during the launch of 3G and 4G, the two previous generations of high-speed mobile services.

Tags: Sprint, AT&T, 5GE

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AT&T’s First Mobile 5G Service Will Be Available in 12 Cities Starting Friday

AT&T today announced that it has launched its first mobile 5G service in parts of 12 cities across the United States, but 5G connectivity won't be available until Friday, when its 5G device launches.

5G connectivity has rolled out in Atlanta, Georgia; Charlotte, North Carolina; Houston, Texas; Dallas, Texas; Indianapolis, Indiana; Jacksonville, Florida; Louisville, Kentucky; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; New Orleans, Louisiana; Raleigh, North Carolina; San Antonio, Texas; and Waco, Texas.


In these areas, customers who sign up as early adopters will be able to use the 5G service with a Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot. AT&T's 5G offering provides 5G connectivity speeds using mmWave spectrum, which is faster than LTE.

AT&T plans to start out with a small, limited launch in dense urban areas where mmWave works best, but promises that customers will see enhancements in "coverage, speeds and devices" over time. AT&T president Andre Fuetsch says that the company is "ready to learn fast and continually iterate" in the coming months.


During the first half of 2019, AT&T plans to expand its mobile 5G coverage to parts of additional cities that include Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose.

AT&T's Nighthawk Mobile 5G Hotspot plus 5GB of data will be available to "select businesses and consumers" at no cost for at least 90 days. Starting in the spring, customers will be able to get the device for $499 upfront and 15GB of data for $70 per month on a compatible plan.

The first Android smartphones able to take advantage of 5G networks are expected to come out in 2019, but rumors suggest Apple will not adopt support for 5G networks until at least 2020, giving the new technology time to mature.

Along with AT&T, other carriers are embracing 5G technology. Verizon, for example, launched its 5G home broadband service in October, with mobile 5G service to follow.

Tags: AT&T, 5G

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AT&T in US, Rogers and Fido in Canada, and Many Other Carriers Rolling Out eSIM Support on Latest iPhones

Coinciding with today's release of iOS 12.1.1, additional carriers around the world are enabling eSIM support on the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR, allowing for dual-SIM functionality on those devices.


According to Apple's website, the latest carriers supporting the eSIM feature include AT&T in the United States; Rogers and Fido in Canada; 3 in Denmark and Sweden; Orange in Poland and Spain; Telia in Estonia and Finland; Telenor in Norway; Swisscom and Sunrise in Switzerland; Vodafone in Qatar; and select others.

In Asia, the eSIM feature can now be used with 1010, CSL, China Mobile, and SmarTone in Hong Kong; M1 in Singapore; APT in Taiwan; Airtel and Reliance Jio in India; and AIS, dtac, and True Move in Thailand.

AT&T's website confirms that it supports eSIM on the latest iPhones as of iOS 12.1.1, while Apple's website continues to state that Verizon and T-Mobile will offer eSIM service "later this year." We've heard from a few people that Verizon may enable support on Friday, but this is strictly word of mouth.

It seems that the rollout of eSIM functionality on iPhones is hit or miss at this point, as a MacRumors tipster claims to have set up eSIM with T-Mobile on the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro, while others have had no luck. The ball is definitely rolling, though, so hopefully eSIM support is more widespread by year's end.

The eSIM, or digital SIM, is a non-physical SIM card slot that pairs with the physical SIM card in the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, or iPhone XR to enable dual-SIM dual-standby, a feature that lets iPhone users have two phone numbers available at once — useful for travel or both personal and work lines on a single iPhone.

Tags: AT&T, Rogers, eSIM

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Hulu and AT&T to Test ‘Pause Ads’ in 2019, Automatically Playing Commercials When You Hit Pause

Streaming TV services offered by companies like Hulu and AT&T are testing the waters for a new type of advertising called "pause ads" (via Variety). The idea behind pause ads is that instead of facing forced commercial breaks at specified interludes, users would be more accepting of ads that play when they choose to pause a show for a bit while they do something else.

Hulu says it plans to launch pause ads in 2019, but not much else was given in the way of details regarding which of its numerous streaming plans will include the new type of commercial. The plan likely to see pause ads is Hulu With Limited Commercials, which interjects a few ads throughout a show's runtime, similar to live TV, but again this hasn't been confirmed.


AT&T cited similar interest in pause ads, stating that it also plans to launch technology in 2019 that plays a video when a user pauses a TV show. For both companies, it's unclear exactly how long these ads will run for, and if you'll be able to immediately cancel them out by simply hitting the play button and resuming your TV show.

According to Hulu vice president and head of advertising platforms Jeremy Helfand, pause ads will not be home to longform advertisements, but will instead focus on commercials where advertisers "have seconds" to deliver a message effectively. Over the next three years, Hulu expects "more than half" of its advertising revenue to come from these so-called non-disruptive experiences.

AT&T advertising vice president Matt Van Houten claims that the company is even working on a version of pause ads that will be interactive, so that viewers can "telescope" to more information from the advertiser by clicking on a remote. AT&T knows that viewers will raise concerns over the new type of advertising, but Van Houten claimed that they are just the next iteration of the "flying toaster" screensaver found on Macintosh computers in the late 80's.

Hulu on pause ads:
“As binge-viewing happens more and more, it’s natural they are going to want to pause,” says Jeremy Helfand, vice president and head of advertising platforms for Hulu, speaking of modern-day couch potatoes. Hulu intends to unveil what it calls “pause ads” in 2019. When a user chooses to stretch, or get a snack, he says, “it’s a natural break in the storytelling experience.”
AT&T:
“We know you’re going to capture 100% viewability when they pause and unpause,” says Matt Van Houten, vice president of product at Xandr Media, AT&T’s advertising division. “There’s a lot of value in that experience.”

In time, he suggests, consumers might prefer the pause pitches to other forms of TV commercials.
Some advertising executives are already unsure if pause ads will catch on. Tim Halon, CEO of media and advertising consultancy company Vetere Group, questions whether pause ads will be too disruptive: "Just because you can doesn't mean you should...if it's simply inserting, let's say a reverse-mortgage ad with a direct-response phone number? I don't know if that aids the consumer experience."

When it comes to advertising, many companies have had to walk a fine line in the past, particularly for streaming services like Hulu and Netflix. Earlier this year, Netflix tested a new feature that added video promotions for shows in between episodes, but users quickly pointed out their frustrations with the test and it never rolled out wide. Netflix executives still claim that there is not currently a plan to run traditional commercial advertisements on its service.

Although details about its service are still sparse, Apple is rumored to offer its upcoming TV shows free to Apple device owners through its TV app, and commercials are not expected to be a part of the experience.

Tags: AT&T, Hulu

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