Controversial AT&T ‘5G E’ speeds slower than 4G LTE, study says

US network AT&T upset plenty of folks when it started slapping a ‘5G E’ logo on smartphones running on its network before even launching a proper 5G network.

Now a new study has found those so-called ‘5G Evolution’ speeds are actually slower than some rival networks still operating on advanced 4G LTE infrastructure. The study from OpenSignal found both Verizon and T-Mobile’s 4G speeds were actually quicker than those AT&T 5G E devices that promised “first step on the road to 5G.”

AT&T’s marketing materials asserts 5G E can offer “up to up to 2x faster than standard LTE”. However, the study found the 28.8Mbps average speeds were slower than the 29.9Mbps download speeds on Verizon’s LTE-Advanced network and the 29.4Mbps average achieved by T-Mobile.

Related: What is 5G?

Both of those networks benefit from 256 QAM, 4×4 MIMO, as well as three-way carrier aggregation to achieve improved 4G LTE speeds.

“Our analysis shows that AT&T customers with 5G E in their status bars are receiving up to a 60 percent boost in speeds over AT&T customers without it,” OpenSignal CEO Brendan Gill said in a statement to Ars Technica.

“Of course, our analysis also shows that the same is true for the equivalent Verizon and T-Mobile customers even though they don’t see a ‘5G E’ label on their device. Bottom line, if one service is offering a meaningful boost over another, it probably should be labeled differently, just not with a name that confuses customers.”

AT&T has criticised the study, claiming the OpenSignal study used flawed methodology to reach its conclusions. It points out that the tests don’t automatically distinguish between the types of 4G LTE networks surveyed.

“OpenSignal’s note reveals their methodology is flawed,” AT&T said in a statement. “Speed-test data purporting to show the ‘real-world experience of 5G Evolution’ without verifying the capable devices were tested in a 5G Evolution coverage area as shown by the indicator does not accurately represent the 5G Evolution user experience.”

AT&T isn’t expected to launch its actual 5G network in “at least 21 major cities” by the end of 2019.

Do you think AT&T crossed a line and misled consumers with the 5G E logo? Let us know @TrustedReviews on Twitter.

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