AT&T says it will drop '5G Evolution' branding after backlash

5G speed graph

5G speed graph

NARB and NAD decisions extend to any paid commercial message in any medium - that includes TV advertisements, messages on AT&T's websites, in-store, as well as product labeling.

But the National Advertising Review Board, the appellate body for BBB National Programs' ad self-regulation program, agreed with the earlier finding. It didn't say whether or not the 5GE icon would disappear from customers' devices (i.e. the area where the misleading claims matter most), but it isn't using 5G Evolution as part of its current advertising.

Tuesday's decision upheld an opinion issued a year ago by the National Advertising Division. Both NARB and NAD are divisions of BBB National Programs.

The panel believes the claims could misle people into thinking AT&T is offering a 5G network, which it does not. The NARB panel agreed with NAD's analysis. The NARB has found that the addition of the word "Evolution" wasn't transparent.

Early past year, AT&T began pulling what some considered to be a dirty marketing trick, creating what it called its "5G Evolution" service that misled many into believing that their iPhone was actually already on a next-generation 5G network - months before "real" 5G networks were being widely deployed.

The company says it's already ceased using 5G Evolution in its branding, likely because it's been promoting its real 5G network of late. That's especially true since the slogan is used in conjunction with "5G Evolution", it said.

While America's top wireless service providers are busy trying to constantly upstage one another by claiming largely meaningless 5G-related achievements like a nationwide high-speed signal (that's anything but blazing fast) and even the world's fastest mobile network (only accessible in small parts of large cities), the nation's advertising regulators are left having to clean up the resulting marketing mess.

A spokesperson for AT&T told FOX Business the company "respectfully disagrees with the reasoning and result reached by the panel majority" but as a "supporter of the self-regulatory process", the company will comply with the review board's decision. Those are national advertisers (49 members), advertising agencies (26 members), and public members (12) made up of academics and former members of the public sector.

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