AT&T will connect your 4G phone to its ‘5G E’ network, but don’t get too excited

AT&T wants to get an early start on 5G, but maybe a little too early.

Roberto Machado Noa

5G, the next generation of wireless technology, is going to be a big deal when it starts hitting phones next year. And phone carrier companies are getting excited about it — maybe too excited.

AT&T will start labeling some of its current Android phones with a “5G E” indicator, according to a report from FierceWireless. That means if you have one of these phones you’ll see 5G E at the top of your screen instead of the LTE marker.

The only thing is that 5G E isn’t actually 5G. AT&T’s 5G Evolution technology is really just advanced 4G LTE with some confusing marketing language. It’s supposed to set the foundation, so AT&T can eventually roll out 5G, but it’s still 4G technology.

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An AT&T spokesperson reportedly told FierceWireless that the company will “roll this out on a handful of devices, with more devices showing the indicator in spring 2019.”

It’s worth noting that AT&T’s actual 5G network is already live in a few cities, but you’ll need a 5G-compatible phone in order to use it. Manufacturers are expected to release these phones starting early 2019 and throughout 2020. But your current 4G phone won’t be magically switched to a 5G network, even if AT&T’s branding makes you think otherwise.

AT&T didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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