Wireless Industry Is Trying To Hide Where 5G Is Actually Available

from the ill-communication dept

Buried underneath the blistering hype surrounding fifth-generation (5G) wireless is a quiet but growing consensus: the technology is being over-hyped, and early incarnations were rushed to market in a way that prioritized marketing over substance. That’s not to say that 5G won’t be a good thing when it arrives at scale several years from now, but early offerings have been almost comical in their shortcomings. AT&T has repeatedly lied about 5G availability by pretending its 4G network is 5G. Verizon has repeatedly hyped early non-standard launches that, when reviewers actually got to take a look, were found to be barely available.

There’s a solid chasm between where carriers say they offer 5G, and where 5G is actually available. And there’s every indication that mobile carriers are working overtime to make sure that chasm isn’t obvious to consumers.

As the FCC finally buckles to pressure to fix the US’s comically inaccurate broadband availability maps, both AT&T and Verizon are trying to ensure that 5G is excluded from these efforts. The FCC has been widely ridiculed for blindly relying on overly-generous ISP data indicating where wireless and wired broadband exists. The FCC has long declared that an entire census tract is technically “served” with broadband if just one home in that tract has service. After massive bipartisan political pressure, the FCC recently announced it would at least take a look at using more accurate geospatial data to pinpoint broadband availability.

But in letters to the FCC, the wireless industry declares that 5G should be excluded from these mapping improvements because it might reveal ambiguously “sensitive” information:

“It would be premature for the Commission to require wireless providers to submit coverage maps for 5G service at this time,” AT&T said, stating that “requiring 5G coverage maps in this early stage of 5G deployment could reveal sensitive information about cell site locations and even customer locations.”

The CTIA, the wireless industry?s top lobbying organization, mirrored those claims in its own filing, insisting that while the organization ?supports efforts to monitor 5G deployment,? it is ?premature to propose standardized service requirements? for mapping 5G availability.

The broadband industry has historically lobbied against any real effort to improve broadband mapping. Why? Better public data would only more clearly highlight the country’s broadband availability gaps and lack of competition, and might result in somebody, you know, actually trying to do something about it. In this case, the industry isn’t keen on having its rosy 5G availability promises exposed as a marketing farce:

“Right now, 5G is the technological equivalent of the emperor’s new clothes,? she said. ?It’s the finest new technology, but no one can see it. Without maps that clarify where 5G service is offered at particular service standards, carriers have few checks on their claims about 5G’s current reach and capabilities.?

The Trump FCC has used the promise of looming 5G availability as partial justification for obliterating countless consumer protections (read: you don’t need oversight of a historically predatory industry because 5G competition will drive amazing innovation!). But there’s every indication that, like 4G, 5G will be spotty in areas where the industry has skimped on deploying fiber because it’s not profitable enough, quickly enough, for Wall Street. As such, knowing where the emerging standard is actually available is going to be kind of important.

Filed Under: , , , ,
Companies: at&t, ctia, verizon

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Wireless Industry Is Trying To Hide Where 5G Is Actually Available”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

The FCC has long declared that an entire census tract is technically "served" with broadband if just one home in that tract has service.

What I thought of when I read that:

(first encounter with a citizen in census tract X)
Police officer: "Have you been mudered lately?"
Citizen: "No…."
Police officer: "What about robbed or mugged?"
Citizen: "…. no …"
Police officer: "What about raped?"
Citizen: "Look here’s a map, follow it to the marked build and then give this note to Dr. I. M. Crazy. He will know how to help you."

Police report: Not crime reported in census tract X.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s probably more like they don’t want the difference between the reality about 5G abilities and coverage to interfere with their fantasy about 5G abilities and coverage that has been revealed in their marketing.

The reason that information is sensitive is that one drives share prices up, the other down. Gotta protect those bonuses that are based on the genius of pertinent executives.

Anonymous Coward says:

5G Will be avaidable in urban area,s ,city,s ,large town,s ,
it makes no economic sense to have 5g cell towers in rural area.s when you go to a rural area your phone will switch over to 3g or 4g .it makes no sense to install a 5g cell tower in an area with a few 100 customer,s .
each cell tower has to linked to the network by a fibre cable .
Theres a problem in that 5g signals are not as powerful as 4g .
They use a different spectrum than 3g or 4g signals.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"Theres a problem in that 5g signals are not as powerful as 4g .
They use a different spectrum than 3g or 4g signals."

Actually the way it works is simple. The higher the frequency the lesser the range. That’s why, even when you roll out 5G, some 95% of the population will still be on 3G or 4G speeds.

And in that estimate I’m assuming that the 5% with actual 5G speeds are, in fact, physically tied to the signal mast.

Annonymouse says:

Re: Business Records

And that is why they studiously do not collect that data.

My bets are on that any of the other 3 letter agencies have much better data on the subject and may even have full mappings down to individual buildings.
Now trying to get that data may require talking to the Australian or British agencies since FOIA requests here are laughed off.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Cake, but don't get to eat it...

I think this is a great idea…

The FCC should decide that since 5G data shouldn’t be considered when mapping, then 5G coverage doesn’t actually count as a connection.

So no mapping of 5G, no defined 5G coverage areas, and no carriers can claim coverage UNTIL 5G is included in the broadband mapping efforts.

It’s fine if they want to have their cake, just don’t let them eat it too…

Anonymous Coward says:

although the telecoms/internet providers are the worst by far, tell me a single, honest industry in the USA that actually isn’t afraid of customers finding out that what is offered is a pittance in relation to what is paid for and is even less than that as far as what is received! all thecrap Trump comes out with would have meaning if there was a company in the USA that could produce the items that Huawei does at a cheaper price but maintaining the quality, reliability and stability! it’s all done to please friends in industry and the only ones suffering, as usual are consumers!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Nose, say goodbye to face...

Let’s limit all families to only having one child, cut all wages to 1/3 of the current rates, and double the production of all manufacturing production cycles (and failure to meet production goals could result in the loss of the ability to legally have children, or continue working).

Then in 4-5 generations we can be just like the Chinese, and have goods that are of similar quality while being produced in the USA.

While we are at it (destroying ourselves), lets just let the Cheeto in charge have his wish and become, President for Life (all other presidents were ‘accidentally’ eliminated in the ‘unplanned and unexpected’ purge of all dissidents (Tiananmen Style… lets go now, Gunem down…)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Nose, say goodbye to face...

"Let’s limit all families to only having one child"

  • Ask China how to implement that measure, I would be interested in their response.

"cut all wages to 1/3 of the current rates"

  • M. Bachmann once claimed that elimination of the minimum wage would result in a zero unemployment rate. Hilarity ensued.

"double the production of all manufacturing production cycles"

  • Gonna have to fudge the numbers, but they are used to it

Yeah, I know, but let’s not do any of that crap.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Nose, say goodbye to face...

I’m pretty sure that the post your replied to was mostly sarcastic, particularly with the "destroying ourselves" line. But it does underscore a pretty sobering point, China’s another playground for the rich, just under different circumstances – which rich people will simply pay their way around, of course.

ECA (profile) says:

What advantage of 5G??

Not allot..
Faster Download of your video..?
More data in games?
You hit your 400g cap in a matter of hours?? not days..

I will bet you 10/1 that this is going to be touted as the NEXT internet..


No matter the Data I see.. EVEN if they can get it to 5gigabits..
Every location they install will need FULL Fiber optic connection to have Any speed increase. Then Count the number of people it will service at ANY speed.. within that area.

  1. high frequencies(freq) are best at Direct line of site.. Like a laser beam. This range of freq is in the upper area of Microwave freq, and they DONT BOUNCE around to get any place except where they are pointed. (More Towers to hit those SHADOW areas that are hard to get to)

  2. High freq needs more power to go shorter ranges Which generally means they will need about 4 times the power or 4 times the towers to get FULL coverage.

  3. Something I dont know IF anyone knows about.. The range they want, is WAY up there into an area where WEATHER observations are taken from Satellite.. And its been claimed that it can/probably WILL, Cause problems with weather forecasting.

But what will they get out of all this??
Besides being able to say they Everyone is now covered with Internet Wireless ACCESS..

How about a different idea.. With such a system, it would be pretty easy to triangulate a Person location with out GPS. REALLY.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is why I have kept saying that 5G has been overhyped. That if your phone doesn’t have it yet, who cares. It’s not going to matter for at least a couple more years, if not longer. 5G range is much shorter. To cover the same area as 4G, you need around 4 times the towers. That’s really going to be hard to do in a lot of places. Places like S.F. where it’s almost impossible to put up new towers. So if you can even pick up 5G, it’s going to be pretty spotty. You’re going to be paying more money for that piss poor 5G service, and for what?

What could you possibly do on your Cell Phone that you need even faster speed? The biggest HOG is Video Streaming which you can already easily do. How about just better coverage!!! I’m at areas that you would think should have great service and it’s almost dead. Like 1 bar. My phone is acting DEAD to the world as I can’t do anything. Not even news in text format. Nothing!!! How about they just fix that. 5G needs 4 times the towers and they can’t have service in areas as it is with lots of people and businesses around.

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I think the fact that it doesn’t go through walls worth crap will be more limiting than the distance issues.. the vast majority of cell usage happens indoors, and I read this as meaning buildings will need to install antennas to get access and so basically anywhere inside that doesn’t have already have wifi today won’t have 5g access tomorrow

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...