There's A Recurring Theme With 5G, And It's Disappointment

from the not-all-that dept

Buried beneath the unrelenting hype surrounding fifth-generation (5G) wireless is a quiet but growing consensus: the technology is being over-hyped, and early incarnations were rushed to market in a way that prioritized marketing over substance. That's not to say that 5G won't be a good thing when it arrives at scale several years from now, but early offerings have been almost comical in their shortcomings. AT&T has repeatedly lied about 5G availability by pretending its 4G network is 5G. Verizon has repeatedly hyped early non-standard launches that, when reviewers actually got to take a look, were found to be barely available.

As carriers ramp up their marketing hype and promote 5G "launches" that aren't really full launches, that theme is only continuing. One ZDNet reporter recently wandered around Miami -- a "launched" T-Mobile 5G market -- only to find coverage was nonexistent and phone support was even worse. He ultimately concluded that T-mobile's definition of "nationwide 5G" most definitely leaves something to be desired:

"...this early hype -- on the part of carriers and phone manufacturers -- may, as so often happens, create a greater excitement than is currently warranted. Yes, T-Mobile wants to claim it has the first nationwide 5G. In the way that nationwide doesn't include the Bay Area. (Well, there are a lot of separatists here.) But when it's all switched on, will we be startled by the difference? We can but hype."

That same story is playing out in Chicago, where consumers are bombarded with endless ads for 5G, but show little real interest in paying a premium for faster speeds, when many haven't even fully utilized 4G's available bandwidth:

“Right now, I’d say 5G is in the hype cycle. Deployment is going to be slower than people think,” said Mohan Sawhney, a professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business. “Yeah, you’ll get faster Internet, but that’s not a breakthrough. ... I’d stay tuned beyond 2020."

It's not just America. In South Korea, users similarly say that while the added speed is nice, they're not all that impressed with the value proposition, especially if it involves overpaying for an even bigger phone with worse battery life (5G is currently quite the battery hog), or paying carriers even more for mobile data. For users already paying an arm and a leg for 4G speeds upwards of 30 Mbps, there's really not a whole lot of motivation to make the jump -- at least not right now. That's before you even get to patchy availability (let's just say there's a reason carriers are trying to obscure where 5G is actually available).

This is, of course, all a far cry from carrier 5G marketing, which routinely insists 5G is already largely everywhere (it's not), and will revolutionize everything from cancer treatment (not really) to the four day work week (nope).

Again, 5G is a good thing in that faster, more resilient, and easily managed networks are always good. And in five years from now, when phone development and 5G coverage has improved, there will certainly be ample benefits to the upgrade. But carriers continue to ignore the fact that over-marketing the standard prematurely may have the opposite impact they intended; associating 5G in the minds of many consumers with hype, empty promises, added costs, and little to actually show for it.

Filed Under: 5g, hype, overhype, wireless
Companies: at&t, t-mobile, verizon


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  • identicon
    kennova, 8 Jan 2020 @ 7:01am

    iPhone support

    And yet all the analysts can seem to say abtou every new iPhone rumor is that 5G won't be available til 2021. This overhype results in criticism to phone manufacturers that is misplaced. It doesn't really matter that phones don't yet support it, the carriers are lying about their own support.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2020 @ 7:16am

    5 years?

    China has managed to deploy a 5g network that seems to meet all the hype. Why is 5g in the US so hard?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2020 @ 7:27am

      Re: 5 years?

      Perhaps there is some article somewhere which supports your claims by providing some sort of evidence, analysis, or even conjecture.

      Why is providing supporting reference on internet blogs so difficult?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2020 @ 8:23am

        Re: Re: 5 years?

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2020 @ 8:36am

          Re: Re: Re: 5 years?

          Aha hahaha. Lolno.

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

        • identicon
          Glen, 8 Jan 2020 @ 9:19am

          Re: Re: Re: 5 years?

          Well, that is stupid of you. If you are the one making the assertion, you damn well better be prepared to back it up.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2020 @ 11:41am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: 5 years?

            So I should travel to China myself and video myself witnessing their 5g network in operation? Do you never make assertions backed up by data from others? Everything you say is backed by personally acquired, verifiable data you can readily offer?

            There are tons of articles discussing China's 5g network. Some from reputable sources, some not so much, as always. Feel free to read one or two of them yourself, as I have. Frankly I find it strange that so many are oblivious to the happenings elsewhere in the world.

            There seems to be a whole lot of angst about some other country being ahead of the US in something. Anything. Well get used to it. The US isn't the shining example of intellectualism and inventiveness it once was, if ever. And that kind of blind patriotism is precisely what is wrong with the US today.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2020 @ 12:04pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 5 years?

              " Do you never make assertions backed up by data from others?" Actually I do. If I can find evidence, then I don't make the claim.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2020 @ 1:26pm

              Re: Re: Re:

              Perusing the top half dozen or more links on that search you provided does not show what you say they do.

              All those articles say is that China has rolled out the largest 5G network to date, NOT that it lives up to all the hype. China's network is still going to have penetration issues, phones are larger, phones suck battery power and have heat issues, and the network coverage is still not as big as the current 4G coverage.

              So this statement here:

              China has managed to deploy a 5g network that seems to meet all the hype.

              is blatantly not true. And the answer to this statement:

              Why is 5g in the US so hard?

              is because 5G is hard EVERYWHERE because the physical technology hasn't been perfected yet. China doesn't have better 5G technology, they just have more towers. Probably because they don't have a problem using the cheaper Huawei gear, so they could roll out more towers than the US for the same or cheaper price point.

              So I should travel to China myself and video myself witnessing their 5g network in operation?

              No, but you could link to a reputable article that backs up your assertions. You have not done so.

              Do you never make assertions backed up by data from others?

              No, no I do not. That would be stupid.

              Everything you say is backed by personally acquired, verifiable data you can readily offer?

              Yes. Why do you think it's fine to make baseless assertions with no supporting evidence?

              There are tons of articles discussing China's 5g network. Some from reputable sources, some not so much, as always. Feel free to read one or two of them yourself, as I have.

              I question whether you have because none of them state that it lives up to the hype, just that it's a bigger network.

              Frankly I find it strange that so many are oblivious to the happenings elsewhere in the world.

              Including yourself, apparently.

              There seems to be a whole lot of angst about some other country being ahead of the US in something. Anything.

              Only by certain people in the government who give a crap about "winning" this nonsensical "race". The rest of us don't care, as long as we don't stay in the dark ages. Who gets there first is irrelevant.

              Well get used to it.

              I am and have been. Personally China can have 5G for the next five years. It's not ready for ubiquitous rollout.

              The US isn't the shining example of intellectualism and inventiveness it once was, if ever.

              It was at one time, and I think it still is in some areas. But it has definitely fallen in areas.

              And that kind of blind patriotism is precisely what is wrong with the US today.

              No argument there.

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

              • icon
                Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 10 Jan 2020 @ 3:24am

                Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "Only by certain people in the government who give a crap about "winning" this nonsensical "race". The rest of us don't care, as long as we don't stay in the dark ages. Who gets there first is irrelevant."

                Given the status of contemporary US phone networks, just powering up the existing 4G infrastructure by half the amount of money intended to be invested in the 5G pork barrel project would probably serve to enhance transmission speed about 5-10 times all over the US.

                I very much doubt the government cares much about who "wins" the race. What they care about is the massive payback and Super-PAC goodwill they'll get from major telcos and tech hardware companies like Cisco.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2020 @ 2:00pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 5 years?

              "So I should travel to China myself and video myself witnessing their 5g network in operation? "

              Why would you think that? Most people simply go find a link to the story they read about the topic, find a quote or something and post it with why this makes them think this or that.

              "There seems to be a whole lot of angst about some other country being ahead of the US in something."
              Coming from those who have a vested interest in the industry I suppose.

              "The US isn't the shining example of intellectualism and inventiveness it once was, if ever."
              inventiveness maybe, but intellectualism? lol

              "And that kind of blind patriotism is precisely what is wrong with the US today."
              Patriotism? idk about that, seems the term means a whole of different things to a whole lot of different people. I think we all know what the biggest problem in the us today is.

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2020 @ 5:52pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 5 years?

                Inventiveness: We have very, very creative pricing for a variety of services. Very. Creative.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2020 @ 5:49pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 5 years?

              This has nothing to do with US brand loyalty. The US is a bit of a joke, really. It's more that no article indicates that Chinese 5G deployment is anything you seem to think it is.

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

        • icon
          David (profile), 8 Jan 2020 @ 12:23pm

          Re: Re: Re: 5 years?

          The article says it won't be out nationwide until 2023 at the earliest.

          "However, if you think a country needs to roll out 5G to all its major cities in order to claim leadership, China looks likely to come out ahead. China Tower, a company that builds infrastructure for the country’s mobile operators, has said it can cover China with 5G within three years of the government’s allocation of spectrum. That points to national coverage by 2023."

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2020 @ 7:32am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: 5 years?

            "if you think a country needs to roll out 5G to all its major cities in order to claim leadership"

            I do not understand this desire to claim leadership .. whatever that means. Leadership of what ... lying to the general public?

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

            • icon
              Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 10 Jan 2020 @ 3:27am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 5 years?

              "I do not understand this desire to claim leadership .. whatever that means. Leadership of what ... lying to the general public?"

              Politics 101. When you've got the largest pork barrel project in several decades landing in your lap, make sure you've given every available excuse to the public as to why their tax money will be invested in making that project a reality.

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2020 @ 8:00am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 5 years?

                It is humorous how they deny involvement when it crashes.

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

                • icon
                  Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 13 Jan 2020 @ 4:23am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 5 years?

                  "It is humorous how they deny involvement when it crashes."

                  The beauty of most pork barrel projects is how the political part allowing it can always claim butthurt and good faith when the contracted vendors fail to completely deliver.

                  In a bureaucratic process how do you find an actual guilty party?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2020 @ 7:28am

      Re: 5 years?

      Why is 5g in the US so hard?

      They have banned Huawei|

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 8 Jan 2020 @ 8:48am

      China has managed to deploy a 5g network that seems to meet all the hype.

      [citation not from the Chinese government needed]

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2020 @ 11:46am

        Re: flank move

        “Citation not from the Chinese government needed”

        Dude what are trying to argue?
        That China needs to prove that it services is better then yours?
        Or that American networks are not as bad as China’s? Lol

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

        • icon
          bhull242 (profile), 10 Jan 2020 @ 1:33am

          Re: Re: flank move

          That China’s 5G “lives up to all the hype”. For that claim to be true, it has to be more than just better than the US offerings. It has to be very impressive by its own merits, not just in comparison.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2020 @ 8:03am

          Re: Re: flank move

          I thought it was a simple request of that poster to backup the claims made by said poster.

          Why twist things around so it looks like you are being picked upon?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2020 @ 7:31am

    Yes, T-Mobile wants to claim it has the first nationwide 5G. In the way that nationwide doesn't include the Bay Area. (Well, there are a lot of separatists here.)

    Not just there; a whole lot of the nation would be significantly happier without San Francisco!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2020 @ 7:35am

    5G requires 4 times the no of towers to get good coverage vs 4g,
    it takes time to put up cell towers, they have to be connected to power and fibre .it only makes sense to do this in urban area,s , towns ,citys .
    It could take 2-3 years before 5g is widely used .
    5g phones have to have 4g and 5g chips,they will use more power .
    theres a lot of 5g hype because companys want to sell more phones .
    And sell new telecom equipment.
    the consumer will decide, how many tech products have died cos people did not buy them ? , 3d tv. dvd hd audio .

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

  • icon
    ThatDevilTech (profile), 8 Jan 2020 @ 7:40am

    AT&T Customer here

    And my S9 has shown the "5G" symbol on several occasions, except it doesn't support 5G, so I see the part about AT&T misrepresenting service. I was at a renfest recently where my phone showed "5G" but the service was truly abysmal. I could barely get anything to load on my phone while out there. Couldn't make any calls either.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2020 @ 10:13am

      Re: AT&T Customer here

      I was at a renfest recently where my phone showed "5G" but the service was truly abysmal. I could barely get anything to load on my phone while out there. Couldn't make any calls either.

      I am impressed at the level of historical accuracy your renfest is going for.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2020 @ 8:32am

    Reminds me aboui marketing versus implementation back in the 90s

    Background: Back in the 1990s. IT Vendors wanted to hype their products at an expo targeted for military audiences.

    Scene: At a booth by a hardware vendor. In block letters on the top of their booth was the name of a particular MIL-STD that I knew that this vendor could not possibly have implemented. There were three generals at the booth oohing and ahhing (I knew one of the generals personally).

    I ventured into the hardware booth and saw a salesperson doing a demonstration. I watched for a bit, and when time came to ask questions, I raised my hand.

    "Your sign up there says <insert standard here>. Show me a demo on how you implemented it."

    Salesperson: "Well, uh... I mean... uh... we don't actually have an implementation to demo... Um... yet. The sign means that we're <standard name>-READY."

    Me: "Hmm. By your logic, I could claim I'm Maserati-ready, but that doesn't mean I drive a nice car."

    (The generals chuckled and left, and I got a knowing nod from the one I knew.)

    To me, this is the state of the "5G" and "5Ge" and all other "5G-ready" stuff right now.

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

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 10 Jan 2020 @ 3:32am

      Re: Reminds me aboui marketing versus implementation back in the

      "To me, this is the state of the "5G" and "5Ge" and all other "5G-ready" stuff right now."

      Not quite.

      To fit your analogy into the above you'd have to amend it to being "Maserati-ready" while not actually owning a car nor a driver's license, but at least being at the appropriate age where you could take the driving test.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2020 @ 9:08am

    Reminds me aboui marketing versus implementation back in the 90s

    Background: Back in the 1990s. IT Vendors wanted to hype their products at an expo targeted for military audiences.

    Scene: At a booth by a hardware vendor. In block letters on the top of their booth was the name of a particular MIL-STD that I knew that this vendor could not possibly have implemented. There were three generals at the booth oohing and ahhing (I knew one of the generals personally).

    I ventured into the hardware booth and saw a salesperson doing a demonstration. I watched for a bit, and when time came to ask questions, I raised my hand.

    "Your sign up there says <insert standard here>. Show me a demo on how you implemented it."

    Salesperson: "Well, uh... I mean... uh... we don't actually have an implementation to demo... Um... yet. The sign means that we're <standard name>-READY."

    Me: "Hmm. By your logic, I could claim I'm Maserati-ready, but that doesn't mean I drive a nice car."

    (The generals chuckled and left, and I got a knowing nod from the one I knew.)

    To me, this is the state of the "5G" and "5Ge" and all other "5G-ready" stuff right now.

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 8 Jan 2020 @ 9:33am

    Obviously

    What we need is an upgrade to 5.1G. That will fix everything!

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

  • identicon
    David, 8 Jan 2020 @ 9:41am

    Silly race

    Faster mobile technology makes only sense if the network backbones are underutilized, and if the network backbones were underutilized, unlimited data plans would be a thing.

    Of course, early adopters will applaud the fantastic available bandwidths until the late adopters move over and then the situation is the same as before.

    This is just a shell game.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2020 @ 9:48am

      Re: Silly race

      and if the network backbones were underutilized, unlimited data plans would be a thing.

      Nor necessarily, when the ISPs are also cab;le TV companies, limiting streaming becomes part of their attempts to protect their cable cash cow.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2020 @ 10:41am

      Re:

      if the network backbones were underutilized, unlimited data plans would be a thing

      Alternatively, network backbones are already underutilized and mobile carriers just can't see past the dollar signs to actually give people true unlimited data.

      (Side note: unlimited data plans are a thing.)

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 8 Jan 2020 @ 11:55am

    All I see..

    Is a snatch and grab.
    Glorify..
    Expand(nothing)..
    Everything positive..

    But,
    Nothing is done about What is already there.
    Nothing is fix, added to the system, the Internal hardware isnt upgraded for anyone except the Corps and stock market, Cause they pay the most using Older systems and designs. And if they had something Cheaper, the ISP/Phone/cell company wouldnt get anymore money..(look up ISDN)

    In Major metro they may have been smart and on the last installations, updated HOW things went into the ground, In City/business centers.. But the outer areas and rural, are going to be so much Fun. so many roads to Dig, So many Wires to find, Connecting Every home(even if they dont want/need it, and expect it to STAY THERE.(love paranoia and thinking people are listening/watching you) this WONT HELP/.

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

  • icon
    zyffyr (profile), 8 Jan 2020 @ 4:22pm

    Nationwide

    All it takes to legitimately claim "Nationwide" coverage is one tower in eastern Maine and one in western Hawaii.

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

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 9 Jan 2020 @ 6:28am

    Why is 5G coverage so sparse?

    Why is 5G network coverage so sparse? It turns out, there is a reason.

    It is little known, yet well established that AT&T representatives are carefully disguised to have the form and appearance of ordinary human beings.

    Due to lack of sufficient testing early on, it escaped AT&T's notice that 5G network signals interfered with the disguise making it possible for some people to perceive the true form and nature of their representatives. Because of this, AT&T representatives need to avoid being in areas where 5G signals are present. Thus it makes sense to ensure that 5G coverage is in as few areas as possible, and to manipulate other major carriers to do likewise.

    In the meantime marketing will work on hype for a new 6G network so that the entire 5G debacle can be swept under the rug as quickly and quietly as possible.

    You read it on the intarweb tubes. So it MUST be true!

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

  • icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 9 Jan 2020 @ 7:30am

    How much of that improvement will be due to 5G?

    "Again, 5G is a good thing in that faster, more resilient, and easily managed networks are always good."

    Well, sure, if you put a hundred times more hardware in place in the form of signal repeaters and higher-capacity switches then the networks will indeed become faster and more easily managed.

    None of that will be from 5G however, just the side effect of generally boosting the network capacity. Unless you're within wifi range of the signal mast what you will be running on is STILL going to be your trusty old 4G connection.

    Going to a higher frequency in order to accommodate more bandwidth will cream signal strength. Thus speak the laws of electromagnetism.

    If there was any honesty around we'd call 5G for what it truly is - at best a marketing ploy, at worst the biggest pork barrel project in modern time.

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

    • identicon
      Rocky, 9 Jan 2020 @ 12:48pm

      Re: How much of that improvement will be due to 5G?

      If there was any honesty around we'd call 5G for what it truly is - at best a marketing ploy, at worst the biggest pork barrel project in modern time.

      You just wait, 8K TV's are coming...

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

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 10 Jan 2020 @ 3:40am

        Re: Re: How much of that improvement will be due to 5G?

        "You just wait, 8K TV's are coming..."

        ...and they'll have a 288 Hz refresh rate, i just know it.

        At least when a car salesman tries to peddle me a car which will get to 180 km/h quickly a case CAN be made that at some point in time I might need that acceleration in a rush.

        5G though? Unlikely. Cap 4G speeds and we already end up with an achievable 60 MBit/s in real-world practice. That's roughly what my ISP has as money-back guarantee on my 100 Mbit/s connection. Unless you intend to consistently torrent 4K blueray rips on your phone you're already covered as long as they invest in expanding the 4G network from "barely usable" instead of burning money in a pork barrel project of 5G which, if lucky, will deliver shit 4G speed.

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


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