Half Of Smartphone Users Incorrectly Think They Already Have 5G
from the don't-believe-the-hype dept
With smartphone sales plateauing the last few years, handset vendors and wireless carriers have worked overtime trying to make 5G seem like it’s something utterly revolutionary in the hopes of driving more phone upgrades. The problem: U.S. 5G is more evolutionary than revolutionary. And researchers who’ve been running U.S. 5G networks through their paces have made it clear that U.S. 5G is much slower than most overseas 5G networks (largely due to a lack of fiber, regulatory incompetence, and not enough mid-band spectrum).
Despite all the dumb lobbyist hype about the need to win the “race to 5G,” we’re nowhere close to doing so. One recent OpenSignal study showed how the U.S. ranked last in a study comparing 5G speeds in a list of 13 developed nations:
Not only is U.S. 5G slower than a long list of countries, researchers from both PC Magazine and the Washington Post have found that U.S. 5G deployments are, in many locations, slower than 4G. More specifically, PC Magazine found that AT&T’s mobile 5G network was actually slower than the company’s 4G network in 21 out of 22 cities tested. That’s assuming 5G can be found at all, a tricky proposition given wireless carriers have been actively misrepresenting where 5G is available by using fake phone icons or simply, much like they did with 3G and 4G, lying about coverage without government penalty.
This reality is a far cry from carrier claims that 5G will create the smart cities of tomorrow, cure cancer, or otherwise completely revolutionize communications. Meanwhile, surveys suggest that convincing consumers they need to upgrade to 5G right now will be an uphill climb. One survey this week found that nearly 50% of smartphone owners think they already have 5G. The general consensus among consumers so far is one of confusion, probably not helped by AT&T’s longstanding decision to pretend 4G is 5G:
“Nearly half (49%) of U.S. consumers (across all major carriers) believe their current iPhone is capable of accessing 5G, despite the fact that the first Apple 5G phone is not yet available ? according to a recently released Global Wireless Solutions (GWS) survey of 5,000 U.S. smartphone users. More broadly, 29% of all consumers with smartphones are unsure if their current device is 5G capable, while 38% of consumers do not know if their wireless carrier provides 5G coverage where they live.”
Yes, 5G will provide faster, lower latency, more reliable networks over the next decade. And speeds will improve when (if?) the U.S. drives more mid-band spectrum for public use, addresses (or even acknowledges) regulatory capture, and we more broadly deploy fiber (needed for 5G tower backhaul) to the parts of the nation carriers have spent years trying to ignore. But most studies show that U.S. consumers are far more interested in a lower bill than they are 5G. And with the industry rushing toward Canadian style consolidation and less competition, that’s likely going to be the last thing on the menu.