Verizon Can't Stop Over-hyping 5G; This Time In NFL Stadiums

from the unrealistic-expectations dept

We've noted for a while that 5G is being aggressively 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 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. Lately, Verizon's marketing department has been heavily hyping the company's launch of 5G in around 13 NFL stadiums, once again insisting this is going to be a paradigm shift that changes the woooooooorld:

"Today’s announcement is a key moment in our partnership with the NFL. We’re proud to work with such an iconic organization to bring Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband service to fans across the country. Verizon 5G is fundamentally changing the way we live, work and play, and we expect the impact on the sports entertainment industry to be massive - it promises to revolutionize the entire game-day experience for fans."

But once again, reporters who dug just beneath the service again found that the launch was nowhere as impressive as what the company has promised:

"Verizon isn't promising any 5G coverage outside the seating areas, and the seating-area coverage will only be available in some sections. When contacted by Ars, Verizon said that its 5G coverage "varies by stadium" but provided no specifics on how widespread the coverage is in each facility. At least some of the 13 stadiums don't have any 5G coverage available outside the seating areas, Verizon also acknowledged."

Part of the problem is Verizon is leaning heavily on millimeter-wave signals to fuel most of its 5G deployments, but such signals don't travel very far and are easily blocked by walls, weather, and other obstacles. The other problem: there are few if any phones that actually support the standard yet, since the industry has yet to really hammer out the battery issues caused by the higher power consumption (one of several reasons Apple isn't expected to launch a 5G iphone until the second half of 2020, if not later).

In other words, most of the hype you've seen about 5G is talking about networks that are barely available, and have little to no widespread device support. Wireless carriers are eager to over-hype 5G for two reasons: it allows them to justify sky high prices for mobile data (US consumers pay some of the highest prices in the world for 4G, something that's only getting worse with 5G), and it will eventually help spur the sales of significantly more mobile handsets, a metric that has stalled out in recent years as smartphone innovation has plateaued.

Superficially, those seem like sensible reasons for wireless carriers to hype a new network standard that will genuinely bring about some important (albeit not really revolutionary) improvements. But by associating 5G with failed promises in the minds of consumers, companies like Verizon are actually sending the message to most of those users that it's not actually going to be worth their time to make the switch, defeating the entire point of the marketing hype.

Filed Under: 5g, hype
Companies: verizon


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2019 @ 6:28am

    I'm waiting for 6G.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 7:16am

      Re:

      No worries, it will be announced when about half the expected 5G users have bought their hardware, or 2.5 years after the initial worldwide roll out, whichever comes first. Shortly thereafter it will be announced that 4G will be deprecated within a very short amount of time. The need for hardware churn is never ending.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2019 @ 10:22am

        Re: Re:

        The fun bit here is that outside of mmwave, 5G is essentially 4G with the optional extensions becoming mandatory. So in order to deprecate 4G, they'd need to either do artificial blocking on the network or deprecate 5G too. Considering how many places I still can't get 4G coverage, let alone 5G, I don't think they'll be doing this any time soon. They're more likely to just change the icon for LTE/4G coverage to start saying 5G, even when used on a 4G phone. It won't sell more phones, but it WILL let them increase the service fees (Sorry, we don't offer 4G packages anymore).

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2019 @ 8:39am

      Re: optimism

      I’m waiting for 1g

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 6:48am

    Performing as intended, at least for the NFL

    The value of 5G in an NFL stadium would be for better streaming of game footage, and THAT probably caused team owners to throw a proper hissy fit.

    It is a wonder that the NFL even partnered with Verizon given the above. But it is even more perplexing when one takes notice that it works in 'seating areas' but not anywhere else. It would seem the team owners would want the reverse.

    Then again, installing a sufficient number of 5G nodes to encompass all the internal areas might be too expense from an equipment standpoint. Or is it the increased electric bill for the millimeter-wave signals?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2019 @ 7:15am

      Re: Performing as intended, at least for the NFL

      It's a catch 22 though because fans want to check on their Fantasy Football scores in the stadium. If they can't then more and more will just watch at home instead of live because the view of the field is not only better but they can check on their scores at the same time while smack talking with their friends. Better cell reception and data speeds are going to be necessary to keep drawing fans into the stadium.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2019 @ 7:54am

        Re: Re: Performing as intended, at least for the NFL

        "It's a catch 22 though because fans want to check on their Fantasy Football scores in the stadium."

        Is that why people are glued to their cell phones instead of watching the game they are at?

        $100+ stadium ticket, $20+ parking, $10+ dog 'n beer ... and all you do is check your fantasy football picks - pathetic.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          JoeCool (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 9:17am

          Re: Re: Re: Performing as intended, at least for the NFL

          It's probably so the die-hards can stream every game currently on NFL.com so they don't miss the action anywhere while still going to the game. I could see where NFL would go for this. What do you want to bet that Verizon's 5G is throttled for anything other than NFL.com's streaming service inside the stadium?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        James Burkhardt (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 7:54am

        Re: Re: Performing as intended, at least for the NFL

        Better cell reception and bandwidth are largely factors of the volume of service the antennas serving the stadium can handle. Fantasy football scores don't need that much bandwidth. More 4G service could easily handle issues with bandwidth. 5G service doesn't really address reception (as noted above, coverage for 5G is poor overall) and the solution to reception (more 5g nodes) also could be used by 4G to handle bandwidth concerns for a smaller footprint. The point of the buildout is to be ahead of the curve, assuming 5G will be the standard everyone expects in 2021, but it doesn't seem like a good fit for this use case.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2019 @ 10:25am

        Re: Re: Performing as intended, at least for the NFL

        Most stadiums have WiFi coverage, which is more than fast enough for fantasy football scores and streaming the big screen. The only real advantage 5G carries is being able to livestream OUT from the stands. It gives every spectator with a 5G device a broadcasting company's level of bandwidth.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2019 @ 8:21am

      Re: Performing as intended, at least for the NFL

      But it is even more perplexing when one takes notice that it works in 'seating areas' but not anywhere else.

      Is it? Seating areas are where I'd expect the spectrum to be most congested. In a good stadium, every seat should have a view of the field without being blocked by walls, weather, etc. And that's where people will be, most of the time. Ignoring the NFL's lawyers, what other areas should have 5G coverage?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 8:34am

        Re: Re: Performing as intended, at least for the NFL

        Does 4G work at the concession stand or in the restrooms (not owning a cell phone, nor one who attends football games, I wouldn't know)? If it does, then one would expect 5G to work there as well. This example is showing the limitations of 5G, not their exaggerated prognostications. If 5G is to be better, then it should do everything 4G does, but better, and maybe more.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2019 @ 9:15am

          Re: Re: Re: Performing as intended, at least for the NFL

          Does 4G work at the concession stand or in the restrooms [...]? If it does, then one would expect 5G to work there as well.

          Why? The phones are backward-compatible, meaning a 5G network will work in 4G areas. Unless the bathroom networks are really congested (which I'd find concerning), there's little need for millimeter-wave signals there. Concessions stands are in more open areas, more prone to congestion; but again, unless congestion is happening there, an "upgrade" would just be marketing bullshit. (Which, to be fair, is what this story's about. But it's not automatically bullshit just because some base stations remain 4G.)

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Crookshanks (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 9:20am

      Re: Performing as intended, at least for the NFL

      The value of 5G in an NFL stadium would be for better streaming of game footage, and THAT probably caused team owners to throw a proper hissy fit.

      I can pull 20 to 50Mbps in the Superdome during games, depending on exactly where I am, with good old fashioned LTE deployed on the Dome's DAS.

      There's also carrier WiFi in there and the surrounding areas, but I usually disable that because it doesn't support IPv6 and delivers inferior performance to the LTE DAS, but it's a useful option for folks with older phones that can't fully leverage LTE-A. I tend to get 10-15Mbps on Verizon's carrier WiFi network.

      Not poo-poo'ing mmWave 5G, this is one of the few environments where it makes sense, but I'm not rushing out to buy a 5G device when my 4G one is already delivering far more speed than I can possibly use.

      The real problem with NFL games is leaving them; no matter how good the DAS/small cell deployment is, eventually you get handed off to the macro network, while stuck in post game traffic, and at that point you'll be lucky to see T-1 speeds.

      P.S., It's a lot of fun to play with these networks outside of games if you can get access to the venue. I have a client who leases space in the Superdome and have gotten to play on the DAS when nobody else was using it. 250+Mbps speeds, more than my cable connection at home, which is simultaneously impressive and sad.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 11 Sep 2019 @ 7:24am

    You don't get network marketing

    You need to establish the excitement early so that the newsworthiness coincides with early adoption and abates afterwards. That way, the market-leading reports of great speed and throughput will be no longer headline material by the time widespread adoption sets in and underdimensioned net capacities make the throughput plunge below the floor and make people yearn for the next generation marketed with even larger "highest speed" not remotely attainable once network use catches up to the planned capacities.

    So the time to make 5G all the rage is while it's not yet there except for enthusiastic verbose testers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    radix (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 8:07am

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqnl7Ng9KfQ

    "If Verizon can do this for the NFL, imagine what it can do for you."

    My first thought after seeing this on Sunday: If Verizon can only deliver this to fewer than half the stadiums, at a cost only affordable to one of the richest sports leagues in the world...I can certainly imagine what this means to me, it's not terribly flattering to Verizon.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 9:22am

      Re:

      You'll note that he mentions streaming in the ad, even though recording NFL games with your phone is strictly forbidden. It's a little word play - the streaming he mentions is INCOMING streams, not outgoing. If they can get you in the stadium by letting you watch other streams, all the more money for them. Especially if what you're streaming is NFL.com.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2019 @ 9:05am

    So they put 5G in the stadiums...

    WTF are they thinking, lets give more bandwith to people who are in a captive arena where we loudly proclaim LIES multiple times before during and after the event...

    "this event can NOT be photographed, recorded, or described, any descriptions of the activity will be treated as copyright infringement (even though it's not and we are lying through our teeth) and you will be jailed" or something similar.

    Lets give the people who LIE THE LOUDEST, MORE BANDWITH TO SPREAD THEIR LIES... how long before all our bases belong to them?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2019 @ 1:04pm

    Well...

    If Verizon 5g can do this for the NFL imagine what it can do for you”

    🤔

    Firefighters 2021: we are screwed team! Verizon’s throttled command again! We are getting off this mountain!

    .....well I probably should just be grounded in some realism...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 11 Sep 2019 @ 3:17pm

    'I mean, it WAS good before we gutted it...'

    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.

    More to the point it ignores that even if 5G was actually as described, much quicker and much more resilient, any improvements would be marginal at best thanks to the companies involved hamstringing it.

    Lighting fast speeds? Great, you can now hit your data cap and either be throttled to dial-up speeds or start paying out the nose for overage fees even faster!

    More resilient network? See above, doesn't matter how good it is if you can't use it's full potential without paying dearly, not to mention given how utterly pathetic current network deployments and upkeep can be I wouldn't put any money on them treating a 'new' one any better.

    One need only look to how current internet service in the US is treated and priced to see that any potential gains from 5G would come with some massive downsides, almost certainly more than enough to make any gains negligible at best.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2019 @ 4:07pm

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Verizon and over-hyping redundant?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2019 @ 10:31pm

    "If the stadium catches fire, you'll all probably be fucked. But hey, 5G!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    nasch (profile), 12 Sep 2019 @ 9:39am

    Coverage

    If it's this difficult to cover just a single stadium, how is this ever going to have a reasonable rollout across cities?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Sep 2019 @ 10:43am

    There are various cities trying to block the installation of the “small cell nodes” required for 5G.

    They are not actually small. They require cooling fans, so they are noisy and large and will be installed on a lot of utility poles.

    There is also controversy about health impacts.

    One could very likely be installed on the utility pole next to your house as they don’t transmit very far and the carriers are not sharing them with each other. Each carrier has to put up a set of nodes for their own service.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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