AT&T customers will be more confused once Android Q launches
AT&T's decision to call its 4G LTE Advanced network 5G Evolution has been called controversial and misleading. Placing a 5G E icon on the status bar of phones (Samsung Galaxy S8 Active, LG V30) compatible with this network might have led some of its subscribers to believe that they were connected to a true 5G network. Sprint took AT&T to court over the icon, and both companies reached a settlement. However, the agreement won't stop the icon from appearing.
According to XDA, AT&T plans on having the 5G E icon show up on even more of its phones. The misleading and fake icon was added to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), which means that all AT&T phones running Android Q could show the 5G E icon in their status bars. XDA says that the indicator might appear when a phone is connected to a network (no doubt belonging to AT&T) using Carrier Aggregation.
Carrier Aggregation is one of the enhancements made to a 4G LTE network that turns it into a 4G LTE advanced network, and it essentially widens the number of lanes that a 4G LTE signal can travel on. It increases the capacity of the channel allowing for faster data speeds. Other enhancements include 4 x 4 MIMO, which increases the number of connections between the cell site and a phone, and 256 QAM which allows for efficient connections by sending more bits of information with each waveform.
Even though 4G LTE-Advanced is supposed to provide faster data speeds than your plain run of the mill 4G LTE network, there are reports that AT&T's 5G Evolution is slower than Verizon and T-Mobile's vanilla 4G LTE service. Ookla, the company that developed the popular Speedtest.net app, said that AT&T had the fastest 4G LTE network in the U.S. during the first quarter with an average weekly download data speed of 40.7Mbps. That figure includes data mined from the 5G Evolution network. But OpenSignal says otherwise, basically stating that AT&T's 5G Evolution is nothing special. OpenSignal measures the data speed of phones that have OpenSignal's app installed.