Exec defended controversial ‘5Ge’ indicator during CES keynote
Last week, AT&T pushed a new indicator to devices connected to its LTE-Advanced network, which drew significant criticism from competitors, the media, analysts and other industry stakeholders. AT&T has branded its LTE-Advanced network as “5G Evolution,” and offers the enhanced service in more than 400 markets. Now, when customers with certain Android devices connect, their smartphone display shows “5Ge.”
In a keynote presentation last during CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan defended the move, essentially calling the backlash sour grapes, calling rival operators “frustrated” and saying AT&T now occupies “beachfront real estate” in competitors’ heads.
In a discussion with MediaLink Chairman and CEO Michael Kassan, Donovan touted AT&T’s activation of standards-based mobile 5G in 12 markets. That service taps the operator’s millimeter wave spectrum and is different from 5G Evolution, which is built on LTE-Advanced features including 4X4 MIMO, 256 QAM and multi-channel carrier aggregation.
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 [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.”
“We felt like we had to give them an indicator that said your speed now is twice what it was with traditional 4G LTE.” we’re getting four, six, eight times the speed. “We did some customer research and they were very not only amenable but they were interested in learning when I was on that network experience.” result of beating the industry out and this 5Ge launch a couple of days ago, “our competitors are frustrated.” we now “occupy beachfront real estate in my competitors’ heads, that makes me smile.”
“Every company is guilty of building a narrative…I love the fact we broke our industry’s narrative two days ago. They’re frustrated and they’re going to do what they do.”
Here’s a glance at the narratives being built by other U.S. carriers.
Last week in an open letter, Verizon CTO Kyle Malady wrote: “The potential for 5G is awesome, but the potential to over-hype and under-deliver on the 5G promise is a temptation that the wireless industry must resist. If network providers, equipment manufacturers, handset makers, app developers and others in the wireless ecosystem engage in behavior designed to purposefully confuse consumers, public officials and the investment community about what 5G really is, we risk alienating the very people we want most to join in developing and harnessing this exciting new technology.
“That’s why we’re calling on the broad wireless industry to commit to labeling something 5G only if new device hardware is connecting to the network using new radio technology to deliver new capabilities. Verizon is making this commitment today: We won’t take an old phone and just change the software to turn the 4 in the status bar into a 5.”
Sprint CTO John Saw tweeted last week, “Just say no to#fake5G.” In a statement, the company said: “Sprint will launch and market real 5G that is standards-based in the first half of 2019. We’re designing our mobile 5G footprint at launch to cover the downtown metro areas of nine top cities, with sights on providing our customers with contiguous coverage using the first 5G smartphone in the U.S.”
T-Mobile US’ CEO John Legere called AT&T’s 5GE move “BS,” and company CTO Neville Ray commented in a blog, “There’s a lot of hype about 5G right now…and some real BS that’s being peddled to consumers and press. I get it. 5G will possibly be the most transformative technology of our time…But I think it’s important to ground ourselves in the facts and realities of 5G too.”
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