When AT & T renamed part of its 4G cell service to 5G E or 5G Evolution, it was not fooling anyone. That's because, despite claims that 5G E was the first step towards a real 5G network, the phones were the same, the speeds were the same, the only thing that had changed was the little icon in the corner of the screen. And now, the mobile analytics firm Opensignal has the numbers to prove it.
In a recent experiment, Opensignal recorded the download speeds of AT & T 5G E phones and standard 4G handsets, and compared them to similar phone download speeds on all other major networks.
What Openignal found is that while AT & T's 5G E devices were faster than their 4G counterparts compared to similar devices from other networks, the download speeds of 5G AT compatible devices & T were no faster than those of Verizon or T-Mobile. In fact, devices compatible with 5G E technology were a bit slower on the AT & T network compared to all except Sprint.
The trick for AT & T is that by bundling the latest LTE Advanced Pro technologies, such as 4X4 MIMO and 256QAM, and classifying them as 5G E, AT & T creates the illusion that 5G E devices offer an increased transmission speed. But this is not the case, as these features are built into the devices and available for use on other networks, as evidenced by the numbers in the Openignal chart.
However, it is important to note that, as part of the tests performed by Opensignal, the firm did not differentiate when AT & T devices displayed the 5G E icon compared to the standard 4G icon. This is because, for Opensignal, the goal was "to compare the experience of the 5G E with the users connecting to other US operators not presenting the 5G E but proposing the same 4G technologies".
Opensignal also added that, LTE Advanced Pro and 5G E technologies were not always available due to factors such as location or other factors, and that the tested devices offered all the features similar, it is still able to demonstrate that 5G E is equivalent to using LTE Advanced Pro tech on other networks.
When asked to comment, an AT & T spokesperson provided this statement:
The OpenSignal rating reveals that their methodology is flawed. The speed test data supposed to show "the actual experience of 5G Evolution" without verifying that capable devices have been tested in a 5G Evolution coverage area, as shown by the indicator, do not represent with accurately the user experience of 5G Evolution.
The bottom line is that all of these networks face the same challenges, but only AT & T uses branding to make their network look like something different. AT & T just needs to take L.
For Sprint, which is currently suing AT & T for its flagrant use of 5G, this data could further strengthen its legal action. Meanwhile, for people just trying to get the best data speeds on current networks, it's best to check the category classifications of the modem on a specific mobile phone. Phones with a Cat 18 modem like the Galaxy S10 will benefit from a higher speed than older devices equipped with a Cat 12 modem, such as the Galaxy S7 or the iPhone 8. (As the most technologies, higher numbers for Cat ratings are better).