Like The Rest Of Its 5G Footprint, Verizon 5G Sports Venue Availability Is Being Overhyped
from the ill-communication dept
Have we mentioned lately that 5G is being over-hyped? While it’s an important evolutionary step in wireless connectivity, it’s far from the revolution hardware vendors and cellular carriers are promising. Verizon, for example, insists that 5G is the “fourth industrial revolution” that will almost miraculously spur the smart cities and smarter cars of tomorrow. While 5G is important (in that faster, more resilient networks are always important), the idea that 5G will fundamentally transform the world tends to overshoot the mark.
Carriers haven’t quite learned yet that over-hyping the standard (or flat out lying about it) only serves to associate it with disappointment in the minds of consumers. Verizon, for example, has crowed widely about the company’s early 5G launches, but when reporters and users actually try to use these networks, they routinely find they’re barely available.
To hype the standard further, Verizon has been deploying it to select parts of a handful of major sports venues, insisting in its press releases that these early deployments are “fundamentally changing the way we live, work and play.” But when reporters actually press the company on where it’s available, they quickly discover it’s, well, not. While Verizon has been hyping 5G availability in NFL stadiums, deeper inquiries have shown that the service is available in only a few areas because the millimeter wave spectrum Verizon is using for these early efforts has a hard time with range and penetrating walls.
The same thing is now playing out in other major sporting venues. While Verizon has claimed in press statements that it will soon be offering 5G in more than 10 major sports venues, Jon Brodkin at Ars Technica pressed them for additional detail and came away notably unimpressed:
“…When contacted by Ars, Verizon said the 5G network doesn’t cover the whole arena for any of these NBA facilities. “Just certain seating areas” in the NBA arenas have access to 5G, a Verizon spokesperson told us.
This isn’t surprising, given that Verizon’s early 5G rollout relies heavily on millimeter-wave signals that don’t travel far and are easily blocked by walls and other obstacles. But while NFL stadiums typically seat between 60,000 and 80,000 people, the seating capacity in NBA arenas is generally 17,000 to 21,000. Despite the big difference in size, Verizon’s 5G network isn’t yet capable of covering all the seating areas in any one of these facilities.
Yes, the transformative, revolutionary power of being able to get 1 Gbps connectivity you probably won’t use in “a few seating areas.”
Again, 5G will be a good thing, in that faster, lower latency, tougher networks are certainly good. But the empty hype carriers are using to promote what the standard can actually do (no it can’t cure cancer) and where it’s available (Cisco predicts 5G will still only account for around 10% of all mobile connections three years from now) is only sowing distrust among consumers.
There’s a reason AT&T and Verizon are trying to hide 5G mapping data, and it’s not because they’re excited about its revolutionary capacity for change. They’re using the modestly-important standard to not only justify charging consumers higher rates, but as a lynchpin to deregulate industry; as in: we don’t need any consumer protections because 5G will soon be available everywhere as a sort of a competitive panacea. You’re not supposed to know that claim isn’t actually true. Telecom remains a fundamentally broken sector, with regulatory capture and mindless merger mania the fashion of the age. 5G isn’t going to fix any of this.