We're Already Hyping 6G When 5G Hasn't Even Finished Disappointing Us Yet
from the this-one-goes-to-11 dept
It was the technology that was supposed to change the world. According to carriers, not only was fifth-generation wireless (5G) supposed to bring about the “fourth industrial revolution,” it was supposed to revolutionize everything from smart cities to cancer treatment. According to conspiracy theorists and internet imbeciles, 5G is responsible for everything from COVID-19 to your migraines.
Unfortunately for both sets of folks, data continues to indicate that 5G is nowhere near that interesting.
A number of recent studies have already shown that U.S. 5G is notably slower than most overseas deployments (thanks in part to government’s failure to make more mid-band spectrum available for public use). Several other studies have shown that initial deployments in many cases are actually slower than existing 4G networks. That’s before you get to the fact that U.S. consumers already pay more for wireless than a long list of developed nations, something likely to get worse in the wake of mindless industry consolidation.
While 5G is important, and will improve over time, it’s pretty clear that the technology is more of a modest evolution than a revolution, and 5G hype overkill (largely driven by a desperate desire to rekindle lagging smartphone sales) is a far cry from reality.
That’s not stopping us from already hyping 6G, though. As carriers begin the fairly mundane process of building the standards framework for the next next-generation standard, the familiar promises of near-magical capabilities are already starting to emerge. Just ask Mazin Gilbert, AT&T’s VP of network analytics and automation, who appears to have learned absolutely nothing the last few years, and is already equating 6G to The Matrix:
“Gilbert added that 6G might even support science fiction-type services, specifically calling out the 1999 movie “The Matrix,” where the character Trinity learned how to fly a helicopter in minutes. “This is what we see our lives going to be like,” he said.
It’s worth noting that several of these kinds of use cases have long been touted for 5G, and now appear to be migrating into the 6G discussion as well.”
At the same standards meeting, Karri Kuoppamaki, VP of technology development and strategy for T-Mobile US, at least tried to temper enthusiasm, urging his industry colleagues to avoid over-hyping 6G in the same way 5G was:
Kuoppamaki made one clear plea to the thousands of registrants to the event: “It’s OK to get excited about 6G, but we have to get excited the right way,” he said, warning that the industry should not fall victim to the “shiny objects syndrome.” On 6G, “we should focus on getting it right,” he said, rather than rushing a new technology to market that doesn’t necessarily provide any clear benefits or new or improved use cases.
What carriers like AT&T didn’t quite seem to realize, is that while they thought they were just sparking a new wave of handset upgrades by over-hyping 5G, misrepresenting what the standard can do and where it’s available (remember, AT&T still uses fake phone icons to pretend 4G is 5G), only creates unrealistic expectations for consumers. As a result, the end user winds up associating what really are useful (if sometimes modest) improvements and standards with bluster and bullshit, the exact opposite of what they were going for.