Half Of Smartphone Users Incorrectly Think They Already Have 5G

from the don't-believe-the-hype dept

With smartphone sales plateauing the last few years, handset vendors and wireless carriers have worked overtime trying to make 5G seem like it's something utterly revolutionary in the hopes of driving more phone upgrades. The problem: U.S. 5G is more evolutionary than revolutionary. And researchers who've been running U.S. 5G networks through their paces have made it clear that U.S. 5G is much slower than most overseas 5G networks (largely due to a lack of fiber, regulatory incompetence, and not enough mid-band spectrum).

Despite all the dumb lobbyist hype about the need to win the "race to 5G," we're nowhere close to doing so. One recent OpenSignal study showed how the U.S. ranked last in a study comparing 5G speeds in a list of 13 developed nations:

Not only is U.S. 5G slower than a long list of countries, researchers from both PC Magazine and the Washington Post have found that U.S. 5G deployments are, in many locations, slower than 4G. More specifically, PC Magazine found that AT&T's mobile 5G network was actually slower than the company's 4G network in 21 out of 22 cities tested. That's assuming 5G can be found at all, a tricky proposition given wireless carriers have been actively misrepresenting where 5G is available by using fake phone icons or simply, much like they did with 3G and 4G, lying about coverage without government penalty.

This reality is a far cry from carrier claims that 5G will create the smart cities of tomorrow, cure cancer, or otherwise completely revolutionize communications. Meanwhile, surveys suggest that convincing consumers they need to upgrade to 5G right now will be an uphill climb. One survey this week found that nearly 50% of smartphone owners think they already have 5G. The general consensus among consumers so far is one of confusion, probably not helped by AT&T's longstanding decision to pretend 4G is 5G:

"Nearly half (49%) of U.S. consumers (across all major carriers) believe their current iPhone is capable of accessing 5G, despite the fact that the first Apple 5G phone is not yet available – according to a recently released Global Wireless Solutions (GWS) survey of 5,000 U.S. smartphone users. More broadly, 29% of all consumers with smartphones are unsure if their current device is 5G capable, while 38% of consumers do not know if their wireless carrier provides 5G coverage where they live."

Yes, 5G will provide faster, lower latency, more reliable networks over the next decade. And speeds will improve when (if?) the U.S. drives more mid-band spectrum for public use, addresses (or even acknowledges) regulatory capture, and we more broadly deploy fiber (needed for 5G tower backhaul) to the parts of the nation carriers have spent years trying to ignore. But most studies show that U.S. consumers are far more interested in a lower bill than they are 5G. And with the industry rushing toward Canadian style consolidation and less competition, that's likely going to be the last thing on the menu.

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Filed Under: 5g, hype, lies, truth in advertising
Companies: at&t, verizon


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2020 @ 6:37am

    That's the problem with having more money than sense and even less interest in what they're spending it on!

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

  • identicon
    David, 16 Oct 2020 @ 7:44am

    Tough choice.

    5G networks may cure cancer, but the cooccurence with COVID-19 suggests that it spreads Coronavirus infections.

    Fortunately you don't need to rely on misleading phone icons to make a choice between voting against free radicals and injecting disinfectant: my proven tinfoil head technology helps against either and as a bonus is prepared to dispel warts.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 8:13am

      Re: Tough choice.

      "5G networks may cure cancer, but the cooccurence with COVID-19 suggests that it spreads Coronavirus infections."

      Only if you're really gullible.

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

      • identicon
        David, 16 Oct 2020 @ 8:35am

        Re: Re: Tough choice.

        I have it on good authority that there are enough people with a single-paragraph attention span that your followup quip will make no difference.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2020 @ 10:52am

          Re: Re: Re: Tough choice.

          Not only that, people who want to choose the cancer fighting benefits of 5G who know that COVID-19 is a hoax anyway, can choose to be really gullible, and therefore have the positive cancer fighting results they desire.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2020 @ 5:08am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Tough choice.

            Well - neither of you have addressed the DNA changing capabilities of 5G covid nor have you mentioned the Bill Gates chips.

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

    • identicon
      Glen, 16 Oct 2020 @ 8:33am

      Re: Tough choice.

      I'm not gonna lie, you had me at dispelling warts.

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

  • identicon
    Ben, 16 Oct 2020 @ 8:03am

    As I've interacted with my customers, I've discovered that many of them believe they've had 5G service for a couple of years now. After all, they've been connecting to "Jones_Family_WiFi_5GHz" since I helped them set up the new home router.

    I do my best to explain that the two technologies are different, but the looks I get from most people tell me I should have just nodded and gone about the rest of my day.

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

  • icon
    Jeremy Lyman (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 8:05am

    Time to drop "Generation" marketing?

    What are the responses on the follow-up question "Do you understand that 5G Cellular is not 5 GHz Wi-Fi?"

    I bet we'll have the a similar problem with 6G because they're marketing 802.11 ax as Wi-Fi 6.

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

    • identicon
      Glen, 16 Oct 2020 @ 8:35am

      Re: Time to drop "Generation" marketing?

      I didn't even think about that. Can I just go and sob uncontrollably into my pillow now?

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

      • icon
        Darkness Of Course (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 2:26pm

        Re: Re: Time to drop "Generation" marketing?

        My wife retired from the electronic instrument manufacturing business (finally). When 5G was being spread about I asked her re is it better?

        No! It's just a rebranding of 4G variants. And a bad one. There is no long distance connects, everything has to be within some short distance (1000ft?). So cell sites everywhere (there goes the cancer fighting benefits). And everyone has to fall back to 4G anyway since they will rarely get 5G connections that are adequate for today's users.

        Her additional comment: 5G might have been an adequate upgrade for consumers that were on 3G or earlier. Which is nobody today.

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

        • identicon
          David, 16 Oct 2020 @ 4:29pm

          Re: Re: Re: Time to drop "Generation" marketing?

          So cell sites everywhere (there goes the cancer fighting benefits).

          By far the largest power a cellphone owner is regularly subjected to is emanating from his own phone. And this power will be larger when the next network tower is at a larger distance.

          That makes even double blind studies (about sleep patterns etc) with randomly deactived cellphone towers misleading. The test persons may not know whether the cellphone tower next to them is on or off. But their cellphones certainly do.

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

  • identicon
    Not THAT AC, 16 Oct 2020 @ 8:32am

    Research[1] shows that for an increasing sample size:

    Smartness [2] of phone x smartness of user tends toward a constant.

    [1] There is none, but no-one reads references anyway.
    [2] There is no measure, but I know it when I see it.

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

  • icon
    Ehud Gavron (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 12:01pm

    5G icon

    Imagine if Tesla's new Model 3 -- that has a 360 mile range -- had its odometer modified to show smaller miles. That would make its EV go 400-450 miles without greatly affecting much other than depreciation. (There are no 6,000 mile oil changes ;-)

    Would anyone stand for it? Would the FTC allow it? It seems to me to clearly qualify under 18 USC §1341 (fraud).

    Yet here we have AT&T convincing Apple to add the icon without providing 5G, Verizon offering a "blended 5G" where you get a 5G indicator but the connection is all 4G or 3G.

    Now we have half the people believing this shit, so obviously "consumer confusion" is now a thing.

    Where are the FTC and the FCC and the "concerned" senators and the people entrusted to protect the Stupids?

    E

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2020 @ 1:00pm

    So, what you're saying is, left wingers are ignorant.

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

    • icon
      Ehud Gavron (profile), 16 Oct 2020 @ 1:20pm

      Re:

      Nobody said "left-wingers" anything. I see you want to make it about libs vs cons. It's a discussion about 5G vs "it's not really here".

      Difficult to fathom, I know, that people could discuss something without putting on their red or blue hats and yelling stupid shit. But here we are.

      E

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 17 Oct 2020 @ 12:12am

      Re:

      No, but thanks for demonstrating how obsessed with team politics some people are that they have to inset it into discussions that have nothing to do with it.

      This is why hundreds of thousands of Americans are dying unnecessarily at a rate far higher than anywhere else in the world affected by the pandemic - even basic science has to become a team game.

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

      • identicon
        David, 17 Oct 2020 @ 3:32pm

        Re: Re:

        This is why hundreds of thousands of Americans are dying unnecessarily at a rate far higher than anywhere else in the world affected by the pandemic - even basic science has to become a team game.

        Well, nobody said that being the leader in 5G technology would not come at a price. No other nation has what it takes to stream every funeral.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2020 @ 5:11am

      Re:

      Obviously only left wingers use cell phones ... you did not know this?

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

      • identicon
        David, 17 Oct 2020 @ 3:28pm

        Re: Re:

        It's sort of obvious that it's mainly conservatives that would insist on using rotary phones.

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

        • icon
          Ehud Gavron (profile), 17 Oct 2020 @ 4:51pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          > Obviously only left wingers...
          ...sort of obvious that it's mainly conservatives...

          There's nothing "obvious" linking political extremism to tech.
          Nor is there anything "obvious" about pretending these are facts.

          Obviously people who draw conclusions from political extremism to use of telephone tech know nothing about actually listening or reading the political opinion AND THEN basing their prejudicial label on that opinion.

          In short, if I have a cellphone, don't label me a "Liberawwwl". If I have a rotary phone (ad absurdum) don't label me a "Conservateeeev". You know nothing about me and my choice of phone dial methodology is irrelevant.

          E

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

          • identicon
            Not THAT AC, 19 Oct 2020 @ 1:11am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "Rotary". Joke perhaps - use of small 'c' perhaps indicating the "averse to change or innovation and holding traditional values" definition. Let's be really conservative and go right back to every call being voice only and operator connected. It would increase employment and the encryption argument would be moot. Who needs these new-fangled data comms anyway? ("Hello caller …")

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

  • identicon
    Smartassicus the Roman, 17 Oct 2020 @ 10:28pm

    Half?

    Half of all smartphone users are dumber than a flip phone.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2020 @ 2:57pm

    Halph of what?

    My 1960's FORD 'Robot Secretary' weighs 40 pounds, I once had ~3,000 flip phones, purse phones, et.al. (fashions change) under blue tarps in my back yard and a few hundred $4,000 Motorola bricks @ 6watts. I throw SIM chips away nowadays, the resulting cameras are nice & i tie my smartphone by a string to this desk, leave a fucking message. Was i smarter then than now?

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


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