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Ad review panel tells AT&T to stop using 'misleading' 5G Evolution claims

AT&T's 5G Evolution branding actually refers to an updated version of 4G LTE.

A National Advertising Review Board panel has encouraged AT&T to stop using its "misleading" 5G Evolution branding.

The carrier's 5G Evolution network, despite the name, is actually just an upgraded version of 4G LTE. In 2019, AT&T received some flack from rival carriers and consumers over the misleading moniker.

A year later, the NARB — a division of the Better Business Bureau National Programs — is recommending that AT&T stops using its "5G Evolution" and "5G Evolution, The First Step to 5G" claims.

Those advertising monikers were previously challenged by T-Mobile before the National Advertising Division (NAD), the investigative component of the advertising industry's self-regulatory systems and another part of BBB National Programs. When the NAD recommended that AT&T should stop using the claim, the carrier appealed.

The NARB panel said it has determined that the "5G Evolution" claims could mislead reasonable customers into believing that they're using a 5G network. The panel recommended the discontinuation of its use.

Largely, that's based on the fact that the "Evolution" portion of the claim isn't likely to alert consumers that they aren't using a 5G network.

"Thus, consumers may well interpret 'Evolution' in the challenged claims as signifying that AT&T's technology has already evolved into 5G," the NARB panel said.

The panel added that the addition of the "First Step in 5G" doesn't do much to "cure" its concerns.

AT&T said that it "respectfully disagrees" with the reasoning and ultimate decision reached by the panel. It stood by its advertising claim, but as a supporter of the industry's self-regulation process, said it would comply with the NARB's decision.