Verizon Now Pretending That 5G Will Help Cure Cancer
from the ill-communication dept
Fifth-generation wireless (5G) will be a good thing when it finally arrives at scale in a few years, in that faster, more reliable networks are always good. But at the same time, 5G’s capabilities have been comically over-hyped by cellular carriers and network hardware vendors looking to sell more cell phones and network hardware. Cellular carriers appear to be in a race to to broadly misrepresent not only what 5G is capable of–but where and when it will actually be available to the public at large.
Verizon, who has scolded other companies for over-hyping the technology, has been one of the biggest culprits in over-hyping 5G. On any given day Verizon’s executives and marketing efforts can be found claiming that 5G will revolutionize the planet, magically enabling the smart cities and smart cars of tomorrow. In recent months, the company’s marketing has proclaimed that 5G will somehow result in massive evolutionary leaps in medical technology, its ads going so far as to suggest that surgeons will soon be more accurate:
— Verizon (@verizon) May 31, 2019
If you look at the replies to that Tweet, the message isn’t being received too well by the public. Most are curious why they’d trust any medical procedure to a cellular connection. And many more have wondered why anybody would put their life in the hands of a company recently busted throttling and upselling firefighters as they struggled to battle the biggest wildfire in California’s history. That’s not stopping Verizon, which has been running several video ads — replete with sad music — claiming that 5G will even revolutionize cancer treatment:
When you visit Verizon’s website to learn more, you’ll quickly find there’s not much there in the way of evidence supporting Verizon’s claims. Yes, faster, lower latency networks are good in general, but they alone won’t magically create new, innovative technology. And much of the stuff Verizon is hyping (like smart cars) can run just as well on 4G networks. The generational bump from 4G to 5G is more of a natural evolution than a revolution, and while the public will benefit — we’re not talking about some world-shaking paradigm shift.
As for 5G’s impact on medicine, when I spoke to an ER doctor last week about Verizon’s claims, he noted that 5G isn’t even likely to be widely used for hospital diagnostics or treatment, since the lion’s share of that technology will use existing hospital gigabit WiFi and Ethernet connections:
“Christian Dameff, an ER doctor and cyber security researcher at the University of California, San Diego, told Motherboard that hospitals generally utilize WiFi or Ethernet connections that already deliver the gigabit speeds and low latency that Verizon is advertising for 5G networks.
?The use of mobile connectivity such as 4G is rare in medical devices or diagnostic equipment because hospitals have traditionally relied on local connections as the primary architecture for their vast networks,? Dameff said. ?WiFi and Ethernet currently simplifies disparate system integration, scales better, and is the status quo over most of the healthcare industry in the United States.”
5G might have some application in remote diagnostics and treatment, but there too the revolutionary impact will be far more modest than Verizon suggests. Dameff argued that if Verizon really wanted to cure cancer, it would take money spent on ads over-hyping 5G, and actually donate that to cancer research:
“I do not see any significant cancer breakthroughs being dependent on 5G,? Dameff said. ?In my opinion, we should take the money spent on these well-produced commercials touting medical advantages of 5G and donate them to cancer research. That would help cancer patients more than 5G itself.”
Ultimately Verizon’s hype is a disservice to itself. By routinely overstating availability and capability, Verizon is associating 5G in the public’s mind with bluster and bullshit. That may help sell Luddite politicians on Verizon’s desired policy agendas in DC, but it won’t help Verizon in terms of its longer-term goal: accelerating stalled smartphone sales and the purchase of more expensive data plans.