Verizon's 5G Superbowl Ads Will Hype Nonexistent Firefighter Tech And A Barely Available Network
from the ill-communication dept
Speaking of over-hyping 5G: Verizon is planning to unload a significant mountain of 5G hype at the upcoming Superbowl, both via ads that will air during the game, but also with a deployment in the stadium itself. The company, still clearly sensitive to having been caught throttling and upselling firefighters during a recent historic California wildfire, is hoping to make its breathless adoration of firefighters a cornerstone of the ad campaign. Speaking to Ad Age, the company says its new ads will showcase 5G firefighter tech that doesn’t actually exist:
“In one spot, Verizon shows a firefighter wearing augmented-reality-powered glasses as he fights his way through a smoke-filled building during what appears to be a rescue attempt. It?s initially difficult to see much of anything in the video, but that soon changes once his wearable digitizes the room, allowing him to see through smoke as if he was in the ?Matrix.?
Such technology isn?t available today, but it is being developed at Verizon?s 5G Labs, which is an initiative within the company to develop use cases for 5G technology?s unprecedented speeds.”
Of course even if this tech actually existed, it wouldn’t be the 5G that lets you see through smoke, not that it matters to Verizon. When it comes to 5G hype, all the company has to do is point vaguely in the general direction of the company’s “5G labs,” which is more of a marketing construct than an actual serious lab, and reporters will sway unskeptically to the beat. For example Verizon has been repeatedly trying to claim that 5G will also somehow accelerate cancer cures, though when I’ve talked to actual medical professionals, they’ve noted that’s not likely and you’d be better off donating Verizon’s marketing budget to actual cancer research.
As we saw at CES, Verizon has this charming thing it does where it chastises other wireless carriers for over-hyping 5G, right before…over-hyping 5G. That tendency pops up again in the AdAge article:
?5G is much more than just speed,? McKechnie adds. ?The competitors have muddied the waters of what the perception of 5G should be. We have developed applications and other programs that allow us to demonstrate what we are able to actually do and give people and fans a taste of what 5G is capable of.”
Yes, what better way to show users what 5G can “actually do” than an ad featuring nonexistent, anti-smoke, 5G-powered, Neo Matrix goggles. Here on planet Earth, Verizon tells Ad Age it’s planning to advertise 5G by offering it at the Superbowl itself. But because the millimeter wave technology Verizon is using can’t penetrate walls or travel long distances, it can’t guarantee that it can even cover the full stadium. You’ll also have to pay Verizon extra to use it — assuming you have one of the tiny number of expensive, large phones that can actually support a 5G signal anyway.
Again, 5G will be a very good thing when it arrives at scale several years from now, providing faster, more reliable (albeit probably more expensive and patchy) wireless networks. But it’s not some mystical revolutionary panacea, and the vast chasm between marketing hype and reality continues to only associate 5G in the mind of American consumers with bluster and empty promises.