Superbowl Ads Try To Make 5G Sexy, But Consumers Still Aren't Buying The Hype
from the big-yawn dept
For years now, wireless carriers have struggled to make fifth generation wireless (5G) interesting to consumers. While the technology does provide faster, lower-latency connectivity, that’s more of an evolution than any kind of revolution. But in a bid to excite consumers (and justify high prices), wireless carriers have been pouring it on a little thick for years, trying to insist that 5G will somehow revolutionize the future, cure cancer, solve climate change, and generally turn America’s urban landscape into the smart cities of tomorrow. And don’t get me started on the “race to 5G.”
During the Super Bowl, Verizon used Jim Carrey and T-Mobile hired Dolly Parton and Miley Cyrus to try and make 5G sexy, but most consumers still generally couldn’t care any less about 5G:
“5G service has yet to really resonate with consumers, said Roger Entner, founder of Recon Analytics. Entner notes that out of monthly surveys of 3,000 consumers, 5G service ranks 5th out of 9 categories for the most important reason to pick a new wireless provider, and 9th out of 9 as a reason to leave a provider. “Just saying my G is bigger than your G ? consumers don?t give a hoot,” Entner told Axios. “And that?s because we really haven?t seen these must-have applications that are reliant on 5G.”
On the one hand, wireless providers want to use 5G to target cable providers by offering home broadband services over 5G. The problem: these aren’t companies that have ever been all that interested in competing on price. And wireless still tends to come with odd caveats that make it an inferior alternative to technologies like fiber or even modern cable.
Most consumer surveys show that consumers generally want two things from wireless providers: more reliable coverage and lower prices. The industry isn’t interested in providing the second one (and thanks to telecom consolidation that’s not likely to change anytime soon). And 5G range in the U.S., has been hindered by a lack of “middle band” spectrum in the U.S., which, unlike high band spectrum (fast speeds, short distances), and low-band (good range, slower speeds), provides both decent speeds at a decent range. The lack of said spectrum has meant that U.S. 5G deployments are generally slower than most overseas deployments, creating an even bigger chasm between reality and hype.
Desperate to make 5G more interesting than it is, wireless carriers have taken to over-promoting what the technology can actually do. This almost always involves taking something you could theoretically already do over 4G or WIFI (like giving someone a tattoo on the other side of the country! or using special effects at concerts!) then pretending it’s only made possible thanks to the miracle of 5G. But time and time again, consumers have made it clear they’re not buying it. It’s even resulted in a 40% jump since 2019 in inter-carrier disputes over misleading ads, given even they know they’re full of shit on the subject.