Verizon Forced To Back Off Charging Extra For 5G

from the overhyped dept

While fifth-generation (5G) wireless will result in faster, more resilient networks (once it's finally deployed at scale years from now), the technology has been over-hyped to an almost comical degree. Yes, faster, lower latency networks are a good thing, but 5G is not as paradigm-rattling as most wireless carriers and hardware vendors have led many in the press to believe. 5G is more of a useful evolution than a revolution, but it has become the equivalent of magic pixie dust in tech policy circles, wherein if you simply say "it will lead to faster deployment of 5G!" you'll immediately add gravitas to your otherwise underwhelming K Street policy pitch.

Here on planet Earth, most consumers couldn't care less about 5G. In most surveys U.S. consumers -- who pay some of the highest prices in the world for mobile data -- say their top priority is usually lower prices. That's increasingly true during a pandemic and economic crisis, where every dollar counts.

Enter Verizon, which, instead of reading the market, has been repeatedly trying to charge $10 extra for 5G despite consumers not seeing the value. Verizon executives had fooled themselves into thinking a "premium" upgrade warranted a premium price tag. But consumers quickly realized the extra money simply wasn't worth it. For one, Verizon's network is barely available (one study stated a full 5G signal was available about 0.4% of the time). First generation 5G devices are also expensive and tend to suffer from crappier battery life. All for admittedly faster speeds most users don't think they need yet.

With consumers not really that interested, and no other wireless carriers attempting to charge extra anyway, Verizon has been forced to finally back away from the $10 monthly surcharge after flirting with it since last year:

"The collapse of Verizon's attempt to charge extra for 5G doesn't come as much of a surprise. No other provider in the US – including Verizon's own MVNO partners – is charging extra for 5G.

However, the development has significant implications for the 5G sector in general because it means operators cannot make any extra money from 5G when selling it for consumers' smartphones, despite the money they're plowing into deploying the technology.

Granted that's not really true. With the FCC having recently dismantled itself at lobbyist behest (including the demolition of net neutrality rules), there's not a whole lot keeping Verizon from nickel-and-diming U.S. wireless consumers in a wide variety of creative ways. The company already sells "unlimited" data plans that prohibit HD and 4K unless you pay more, so the precedent has been set and the door is open wide to a variety of spurious new surcharges.

That's particularly true given that captured U.S. regulators in the Trump administration keep signing off on terrible mergers that are guaranteed to reduce competition and raise rates. So while Verizon has struggled to extract its pound of flesh via an additional 5G surcharge, they'll surely come up with some ingenious new fees down the road. And U.S. regulators and Congress, by and large, will not only be fine with that, but they'll help Verizon pretend it's the pinnacle of innovation. After all, we wouldn't want to lose the "race to 5G," right?

Update: and like that Verizon appears to have found another way to charge users more, by making 5G only something you can get if you subscribe to one of the company's (not actually) unlimited data plans. Funny how that works.

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Filed Under: 5g, competition, surcharges
Companies: verizon

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  • identicon
    Can You Beer Me Now?, 18 Aug 2020 @ 6:41am

    What ever happened to market research, or maybe they are thinking a monopoly would not require same.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Aug 2020 @ 7:24am

    From what I've read, the likes of Verizon are SAYING they're plowing loads into 5G deployment just to get more public money. Once got, that money magically disappears into certain top bosses pockets. The only actual deployment is the text included on bills!

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

  • icon
    Vidiot (profile), 18 Aug 2020 @ 7:29am

    But they NEED that extra money for the COVID-transmission technology! Cancer, mind control, bird-killing... this stuff doesn't come cheap.

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

  • icon
    Jeremy Lyman (profile), 19 Aug 2020 @ 4:53am

    Premium Data Premium

    Reminds me of a conversation I had with Sprint reps 9 years ago when I used to pay for unlimited data.

    It's good to know that the plan descriptions on the Sprint web site are
    accurate, thanks. However that displaces the only difference I could
    discern between the normal data plan and the premium data plan. Premium
    data does not refer to 4G and it does not refer to unlimited usage caps.
    I'm going to assume it does not refer to reduced latency or packet loss.
    So I'm at a loss as to how this offering is value added.

    Maybe this discrepancy is grammar based. I've been assuming that
    'premium' in your usage is an adjective describing the data available to
    my device. However, since I can detect no additional value an adjective
    would convey, it sounds like Sprint means to use this term as a noun.

    premium [ˈpriːmɪəm]
    (Business / Commerce) an amount paid in addition to a standard rate,
    price, wage, etc.; bonus
    Of superior quality or value: premium gasoline.

    If this is the case I'd suggest rephrasing your publications and
    paperwork to refer to the "data premium" instead. That indicates an
    extra fee on top of the usual rate for unlimited data. Although the
    user's device is apparently the metric you're using to charge the
    premium so maybe "device premium" or "smartphone premium" would be more
    appropriate. These devices are even value added from standard feature
    phones, so you could use "premium device premium" if you wanted! These
    are all good.

    I'm also curious whether sprint has taken into account all the features
    users can take advantage of with advanced handsets. The cameras and
    processors are listed as reasons that users will use more 3G bandwidth
    than their feature phone counterparts. However if using a larger
    portion of the 3G back-haul system is a rationale for a device premium,
    shouldn't specs that potentially lower traditional data consumption be
    justification for discount? I'm referring to the WiFi and WiMax radios
    in these devices that can ease the burden of over-taxed infrastructure
    by making use of high bandwidth and non-Sprint systems.

    Look, I know all these semantic arguments aren't really going convince
    you to drop the new fee Sprint is assessing. And I'm actually fine with
    paying what I pay for service. (I wouldn't complain if it was less, but
    who would?) But I find it insulting that Sprint thinks they can raise
    their prices and not admit it in their advertisements. If you need more
    money to roll out 4G nationwide, that's fine. If you've realized that
    demand is increasing for smart phones and decided to charge more in
    response, that's fine too. But I do have a problem with selling the
    same service for more money while pretending that it also has more

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

    • icon
      Jeremy Lyman (profile), 19 Aug 2020 @ 5:00am

      Re: Premium Data Premium

      In case it's not clear from the context, Sprint started charging a monthly $10 fee which was NOT for 4G service, but levied on a certain class of phone, whether it had 4G capability or not. They called it a "premium data" Add-on.

      I expect that if Verizon really wants to charge $10 more, they'll find a way.

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

  • identicon
    Through the Looking Glass, 5 Sep 2020 @ 9:58pm

    5G Technology and induction of coronavirus in skin cells

    This study was originally hosted here (.gov) but has since been retracted:

    Here is the pdf:

    Here is the abstract:

    In this research, we show that 5G millimeter waves could be absorbed by dermatologic cells acting
    like antennas, transferred to other cells and play the main role in producing Coronaviruses in biological
    cells. DNA is built from charged electrons and atoms and has an inductor-like structure. This structure
    could be divided into linear, toroid and round inductors. Inductors interact with external electromagnetic
    waves, move and produce some extra waves within the cells. The shapes of these waves are similar to
    shapes of hexagonal and pentagonal bases of their DNA source. These waves produce some holes in
    liquids within the nucleus. To fill these holes, some extra hexagonal and pentagonal bases are produced.
    These bases could join to each other and form virus-like structures such as Coronavirus. To produce
    these viruses within a cell, it is necessary that the wavelength of external waves be shorter than the size
    of the cell. Thus 5G millimeter waves could be good candidates for applying in constructing virus-like
    structures such as Coronaviruses (COVID-19) within cells.

    Are any of you even capable of seeing what is in front of your faces? They aren't even trying to hide what they're doing. Check into DARPA genetic engineering programs, check into the WEF's Global Reset...

    Or are you less like Winston than you'd care to believe:

    "You are a slow learner, Winston."

    "How can I help it? How can I help but see what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four."

    "Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane."

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

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