5G is the talk of Las Vegas at CES this week. However, there is mounting controversy about what cellular network providers are actually declaring as 5G. The superfast network will not actually be launched until 2020 or even 2021, but the cellular providers are still keen to brand things as 5G now. A piece on the Associated Press noted that “AT&T has drawn ridicule by relabeling the network used by some of its phones as ‘5G E’,” for example. This main seem a relatively superficial issue but in terms of been clear with customers, it matters.
There’s a history of carriers being murky about network claims. AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint started calling an enhanced 3G network 4G in the early 2010s. There’s more pushback this time because people are now more aware of what a next-generation network can do.