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T-Mobile pokes fun at AT&T for labelling its 4G service as 5G

4G curiously becomes 5G overnight, with no change in the company’s infrastructure or customers' device hardware

T-Mobile has cast aspersions at rival operator AT&T for changing the 4G icon on its users' devices to 5G-E, despite not offering a true 5G network as yet. 

In a tweet replying to a Verge article about the labelling, the operator posted a fun-poking video with someone essentially sticking a post-it note on a phone labelled '9G'. 

4G runs on LTE technology while true 5G runs on mmWave technology, but AT&T's peculiar rebranding of its network to one bearing the 5G name happened over the weekend despite no physical upgrades from the customers to 5G-enabled devices, or any new infrastructure in place to deliver the new technology.

"5G Evolution (5G E) is our first step on the road to 5G. Our improvements are already enabling faster speeds on our existing LTE network," AT&T claims as part of its 5G development marketing

AT&T's 5G-E is still 4G LTE. It's still the same network, but the 'E' stands for 'evolution'. There is some merit to this rebranding - the carrier has made some upgrades to its existing LTE network such as "carrier aggregation to add more "lanes" to the highway that data travels on, 4x4 MIMO to double the number of antennas that can send data back and forth, and 256 QAM to make data transmission more efficient," the network said. 

T-Mobile was the first to roll out features such as carrier aggregation, 4x4 MIMO, and 256 QAM back in 2016 and still called its LTE network '4G', which is what it is. Verizon and Sprint also have these technologies on their LTE networks without the 5G moniker. 

Verizon is the first to bring a 5G network to consumers in select regions of the US with the rollout of its 5G Ultra Wideband Wireless home internet solution. To achieve that, the firm installed fresh cell towers across its covered regions in California and Texas.

Select Android phones from Samsung and LG will be the first to get the new 5G-E status bar icon with more phones being supported in the spring.

Perhaps worryingly for some, the only feature listed under 'what's new' in this update bulletin for the LG V30 is "5G Evolution indicator support added" while the OS security patch remains two months out of date. 

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