John Donovan, CEO at AT&T Communications, is shrugging off complaints from his company’s rivals about its 5G E promotion campaign.

“If I occupy beachfront real estate in my competitors’ heads, that makes me smile,” Donovan said on Wednesday during an address at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

AT&T is promising next generation wireless deployments of 5G technology, and the Triangle is one of the regions where a trial is underway with data and wireless hot spots, according to the company.

The evolutionary step AT&T has branded as 5G E is a step toward actual 5G deployment. 5G offers the promise of true wireless broadband.

AT&T also reiterated its commitment to 5G deployment.

“We delivered on one of the most ambitious goals in our industry by being the first in the U.S. with live commercial mobile 5G,” said Jeff McElfresh, president of AT&T Technology Operations, in a statement issued Wednesday.

“2018 was a year of rapid R&D, testing and deployment as our people rolled out 5G within months of the final 3GPP standard being set—going from an 18 month cycle to same-year deployment. And now we’re going to begin making this 5G vision come to life further for businesses and consumers.”

AT&T’s 5G claims ignites war of words with rival carriers

Looking ahead to what 5G will mean, Donovan noted:

“What’s the WOW experience in our store? The WOW stands for ‘walk out and watch,'” he said, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

“It’s providing a whole new set of opportunities for the media business.”

AT&T has drawn ridicule by relabeling the network used by some of its phones as 5G E to signal that the next-generation wireless network is here. Problem is, phones capable of connecting to 5G aren’t coming for another few months, and a national 5G network won’t be deployed until 2020 or 2021

The criticism included headlines such as:

  • Cnet: Verizon and T-Mobile bash AT&T over ‘fake 5G’
  • Engadget:  AT&T gets burned by rivals over its fake 5G network
  • The Verge: Even Sprint is dunking on AT&T’s 5G nonsense
  • 9to5Mac:  5G smartphones could revitalize sales, says report, as AT&T accused of deceiving customers

Verizon, which complained Tuesday about AT&T’s move, did something similar when it launched a residential wireless service with the 5G moniker using its own proprietary technology. Although there are now industry standards specifying exactly what 5G networks must meet, dubbed “5G NR,” there are still some grey areas, particularly when it comes to marketing. Carriers are using all tools at their disposal as they race to try to convince consumers they’ll be “first” with 5G.

AT&T launching 5G wireless in parts of Raleigh, Charlotte areas on Dec. 21

Verizon Chief Technology Officer Kyle Malady said that companies that mislabel services as 5G risk confusing consumers. He said “the potential to over-hype and under-deliver on the 5G promise is a temptation that the wireless industry must resist.”

IDC analyst Jason Leigh said labeling 5G is a “battle between marketers and engineers,” as they try to balance hype and reality.