We're Already Hyping 6G When 5G Hasn't Even Finished Disappointing Us Yet

from the this-one-goes-to-11 dept

It was the technology that was supposed to change the world. According to carriers, not only was fifth-generation wireless (5G) supposed to bring about the "fourth industrial revolution," it was supposed to revolutionize everything from smart cities to cancer treatment. According to conspiracy theorists and internet imbeciles, 5G is responsible for everything from COVID-19 to your migraines.

Unfortunately for both sets of folks, data continues to indicate that 5G is nowhere near that interesting.

A number of recent studies have already shown that U.S. 5G is notably slower than most overseas deployments (thanks in part to government's failure to make more mid-band spectrum available for public use). Several other studies have shown that initial deployments in many cases are actually slower than existing 4G networks. That's before you get to the fact that U.S. consumers already pay more for wireless than a long list of developed nations, something likely to get worse in the wake of mindless industry consolidation.

While 5G is important, and will improve over time, it's pretty clear that the technology is more of a modest evolution than a revolution, and 5G hype overkill (largely driven by a desperate desire to rekindle lagging smartphone sales) is a far cry from reality.

That's not stopping us from already hyping 6G, though. As carriers begin the fairly mundane process of building the standards framework for the next next-generation standard, the familiar promises of near-magical capabilities are already starting to emerge. Just ask Mazin Gilbert, AT&T's VP of network analytics and automation, who appears to have learned absolutely nothing the last few years, and is already equating 6G to The Matrix:

"Gilbert added that 6G might even support science fiction-type services, specifically calling out the 1999 movie "The Matrix," where the character Trinity learned how to fly a helicopter in minutes. "This is what we see our lives going to be like," he said.

It's worth noting that several of these kinds of use cases have long been touted for 5G, and now appear to be migrating into the 6G discussion as well."

At the same standards meeting, Karri Kuoppamaki, VP of technology development and strategy for T-Mobile US, at least tried to temper enthusiasm, urging his industry colleagues to avoid over-hyping 6G in the same way 5G was:

Kuoppamaki made one clear plea to the thousands of registrants to the event: "It's OK to get excited about 6G, but we have to get excited the right way," he said, warning that the industry should not fall victim to the "shiny objects syndrome." On 6G, "we should focus on getting it right," he said, rather than rushing a new technology to market that doesn't necessarily provide any clear benefits or new or improved use cases.

What carriers like AT&T didn't quite seem to realize, is that while they thought they were just sparking a new wave of handset upgrades by over-hyping 5G, misrepresenting what the standard can do and where it's available (remember, AT&T still uses fake phone icons to pretend 4G is 5G), only creates unrealistic expectations for consumers. As a result, the end user winds up associating what really are useful (if sometimes modest) improvements and standards with bluster and bullshit, the exact opposite of what they were going for.

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Filed Under: 5g, 6g, hype, overhype, wireless
Companies: at&t


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  • icon
    neost (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 6:21am

    Have to maintain the hype engine

    This is something the telecoms learned after a couple of rollouts. You start hyping the next big thing to cover up that the last big thing ain't rolling out so well or doing half what it was promised to do and only reaches a percentage of subscribers.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2020 @ 6:44am

    Is 5G like Microsoft Millennium Edition?

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 6:57am

      Re:

      Windows Me was a half-baked upgrade to an outdated backend that needed to be replaced with something more suited to the modern world, so I'd disagree with that. There's nothing seriously wrong with 4G, except that some people are trying to push new services that will challenge some connections.

      5G is more like Vista - an upgrade that while needed was pushed out before it was really ready for market and needed to wait till the next version in order to be fit for the purpose it was hyped for.

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

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 7:51am

      Re:

      "Is 5G like Microsoft Millennium Edition?"

      No. To make a smartphone fit the analogy of Windows ME you need to perform a lot of highly intrusive front and backend tinkering with an increasing degree of skill...
      ...and then you toss the dysfunctional device out the window and roll back to a Nokia 3310 brick. That's the smartphone analogy to Windows ME. Which is arguably still better than the analogy of Windows 95 and 98 where you roll all the way back to a pair of paper cups and a string.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2020 @ 9:23am

      Re:

      We'll have to skip 9G and go straight to XG. Following that we'll jump right to The Singularity, simply "G", where quantum entanglement will be used for instant, lossless communication at any distance.

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

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 6:52am

    ""Gilbert added that 6G might even support science fiction-type services, specifically calling out the 1999 movie "The Matrix," where the character Trinity learned how to fly a helicopter in minutes. "This is what we see our lives going to be like," he said."

    1. I'm pretty sure "minutes" wasn't the timescale depicted in the movie

    2. I'm also pretty sure that the ability depicted was due to cranial implants that connected directly to a virtual world in a massive global supercomputer, thus bypassing the need for the human brain to absorb and practice the data, not because a device in her pocket got better speed.

    "On 6G, "we should focus on getting it right," he said, rather than rushing a new technology to market that doesn't necessarily provide any clear benefits or new or improved use cases."

    Then maybe don't do that? Unless I'm very much mistaken, there is actually a finalised global 5G standard yet, so perhaps it's not the time to be hyping up superhero-enabling next gen standards as you are here...

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

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 7:46am

      Re:

      mmmyeah...Gilbert's statement does kind of remind me of that time when the US ambassador to Australia was asking the aussies to stop filesharing and tried to be hip by quoting a series he obviously hadn't seen;

      "A Lannister always pays his debt. Wouldn't you like being a Lannister more than a Pirate?"

      • to which the normal pirate would reply;

      "Let's see, being a child-killing psycho banging his own sister, a dirty old man having his daughter-in-law gang raped, or a cynical, drunken dwarf...nah, pass"

      We can hope Gilbert simply hasn't seen the movie or didn't realize what it was about, because otherwise I'm pretty sure he wouldn't be raising hopes that some day soon we'd all be living in a dystopian simulation where the Chosen Few had to put decidedly unsafe hackable technology in their own skulls so they could use technomagic to hopefully...er...not get hunted down and killed like rats by the Agents in black shades and suits.

      "...perhaps it's not the time to be hyping up superhero-enabling next gen standards as you are here."

      "Ah, but the touch of the True King will cure scrofula, leprosy and cancer, you see. Admittedly we don't have a True King yet, but right now we CAN sell you a place in line to kiss his ring - once he gets here - which you had better purchase. The queue will stretch across the continent!".

      • Gilbert, basically.

      I'm not sure whether he's beginning to angle himself for a way to finagle the federal government out of a massive subsidy to research 6G, or whether he's trying to distract from the fact the US implementation of 5G was, is, and will remain an underperforming and overpriced shit-show.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2020 @ 7:05am

    so end of education?

    When people can learn instantly, no more schools, colleges, or universities.
    Then reality will kick in when they find out it was hype and they can't even get a job flipping burgers without a degree.

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

  • icon
    Bloof (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 7:07am

    Does this mean we can start the 6G conspiracy theories then? 6G waves are silencing conservative voices!

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

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 7:32am

      Re:

      "6G waves are silencing conservative voices!"

      Worse. With 3G liberal nerds could educate themselves. With 6G they might get book learnt more'n TWICE as fast. And it's gonna get ya cancer too, which you can only cure by kissin' the ringpiece of Dear Leader. I'd have to stand in line!

      It's the apocalypse, I tell ya.

      /s, lest Poe ensure I'm mistaken for a red hat cultist.

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

  • icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 7:29am

    OK, I'm not a physicist, but...

    ...6G? Seriously?

    5G is basically the frequency, bandwidth, and signal range of your ordinary at-home router.
    6G will be meant for what, precisely? A replacement for when the cat's chewed off your medium-long ethernet cable? Something you can brag about while standing 5 meters from your router?
    7G begs no questions. You just take the lid off your microwave and stick your phone in it - because that's about the range I can imagine you'll get out of it.

    Meanwhile the US 4G network is still barely delivering slipshod 3G.

    "Just ask Mazin Gilbert, AT&T's VP of network analytics and automation, who appears to have learned absolutely nothing the last few years, and is already equating 6G to The Matrix"

    Not a neuroscience expert either, but if he was talking about loading massive amounts of data from one place to another, we can already do that using cable which has the benefit of both existing and beating 6G in potential range.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2020 @ 12:36pm

      Re: OK, I'm not a physicist, but...

      You answered your own question when you noted that 4G is barely crappy 3G. 6G will be the full 4G rollout that will happen in 15 years or so. Then we'll have 7G, 8G, and 9G for rollouts of real 5G.

      ...No /s because I'm entirely serious - but don't think I'm happy about it.

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

  • icon
    Koby (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 7:58am

    Luddites

    I skipped ahead and bought a subspace emitter addon to make my phone 9G compatible. Now I'm future-proof, but unfortunately the only other person on the network is some guy named Borg.

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

  • identicon
    Marvin, 23 Oct 2020 @ 12:57pm

    Wanna borrow my Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator ?

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

  • icon
    John85851 (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 1:32pm

    A new G arms race

    How soon will it be until we get a "G" arms race?
    AT&T announces it'll soon have 6G.
    Verizon responds that it's working on 7G.
    T-Mobile will soon come out with 8G, because 8 is more than 6.

    Then after everyone buys 4G phones that show "8G" on the display, will we realize that we're still getting 4G service and all this "G" marketing is nonsense.

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

  • identicon
    DLM, 23 Oct 2020 @ 3:50pm

    How standards work

    Standards for mobile and deployment of those standards in the market place is a long process.

    For 5G in the late 2000s the ITU (part of the UN) started working on the requirements for the next generation of wireless. This has input from operators, handset manufacturers, basestation venders, and governments. This resulted in the "Vision 2020" document describing the expected new features, operating bands, and compatibility with existing networks (2G, 3G, 4G, and WiFi).

    As the "Vision 2020" document was coming together the operators, handset chipset companies, and basestation vendors started working at the 3GPP on what would become the first of the 5G standards. 3GPP puts out standards (called releases) roughly every two to six years. (Target is two but...) Each release covers 2G though 4G and now 2G through 5G. There are bug fixes in the older generations and sometimes new features are added to the older generations (higher 3G data rates have happened several times, same with 4G data rates).

    It takes several years to put a 3GPP release out. So work is being done on the next release plus research for the release after that. Study groups go off to do experiments about new technologies to see how they work in the real world versus simulation. This is then fed into the standardization effort.

    There also is a political aspect to this. It's part of the UN, so there has to be politics. Governments want to ensure that companies in their country will benefit. Companies want to ensure that they have patents in the standard so that they can cross license with other companies. The cross licenses avoid most payments for use of the IP. Sometimes this results in odd decisions such as the use of polar codes for ECC on the management channel in 5G; this was a technology pushed by Huawei but it doesn't perform any better than LDPC codes and is a lot more complicated to implement.

    Once the 3GPP standards are fairly solid, not finished but all the big decisions have been made, the various companies start developing chips. This takes two or three years. During this time the test equipment vendors start working on test equipment. This started about 2015 for 5G.

    The operators have been working with local governments (FCC in the US) for spectrum for 5G for a decade.

    As chipsets are developed interoperability testing starts between different companies. Once those pass formal certification to 3GPP standards can occur at one of the certification vendors. This is followed by operator specific testing for some operators (AT&T and Verizon do this, most foreign operators don't).

    Once equipment starts being available (2018ish) they start field trials. Some are public for advertising, most aren't public. The trials are to get test data for both the handset and basestation vendors. The field tests go on in parallel to the interoperability testing and certification.

    The target was to have some 5G networks operational in 2020. Full deployment typically takes another 5 years. Updates to 5G will continue till 2035 or possibly longer.

    ITU work on "Vision 2030" started a couple of years ago, this will be the 6G requirements document. 3GPP is starting to look at the new technologies that will be required for 6G. Again, target is limited deployment in 2030 with another 4 or 5 years after that for full deployment. Updates to 6G will continue till at least 2045.

    The assumption is a "Vision 2040" document will arrive in 2030 for the definition of 7G features.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Oct 2020 @ 3:35am

      Re: How standards work

      To sum it up ... a product in search of a market.

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

      • identicon
        DLM, 24 Oct 2020 @ 9:50pm

        Re: Re: How standards work

        This is how high tech works. Figure out some things that would benefit from better technology. Build it.

        Afterwards find out that the largest users are new ones. The projected users are always not the succesfull new users. Which doesn't matter. Start on the next generation of the technology.

        This occurs with Ethernet (currently aiming above 100 Gbps), WiFi (aiming for 10+ Gbps links), and mobile (aiming for 10+ with 5G).

        A lot of 5G is aimed at non-consumer users. It will be more reliable (more towers, more spatial streams) which is important for public safety users (police/fire) who need reliable communications. It has an order of magnitude lower latency. Allowing it's use in time critical locations such as factories.

        And we are 5 or more years from those primary users. It takes billions to build out the network for that.

        There are limited incentives for US incumbent carriers to spend that money. Tax law changes are resulting in less investment not more. (Find a politics forum to argue this on.)

        Ignore what Verizon and AT&T are saying. They are hyping the new generation number. Because they want more customers. Or to keep customers. The US has very fast LTE networks. They also are more expensive than networks from other companies in other countries.

        The real gains are not going to be in the consumer segment. Police, fire departments, internal factory use. Those are the gains this generation.

        6G is the first attempt to solve the terrahertz barrier. Current RF technologies don't work well in terrathertz frequencies. We have technologies for 100s of terrahertz (visible light) but the 100 GHz to 10 THz area is largely unused.

        To give higher data rates 6G wants to move into that currently unused spectrum.

        I'm not enough of an analog Si engineer to know if they will succeed.

        For fifty years we have been releasing faster networking technologies. Usually without a known use for them before release. And every time someone, somewhere, has come up with a use for the higher data rates and lower latencies.

        i expect someone has a need for the new 5G data rates that will be available in 5 or so years. I also have no idea what their need will deliver.

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

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 26 Oct 2020 @ 4:13am

          Re: Re: Re: How standards work

          "6G is the first attempt to solve the terrahertz barrier. Current RF technologies don't work well in terrathertz frequencies."

          Well, yes, there's a law of electromagnetism to consider which, and unfortunately legislation around that appear to be handled by the same sort of politicians as those who decided to support the "indiana pi".

          "We have technologies for 100s of terrahertz (visible light) but the 100 GHz to 10 THz area is largely unused. "

          For good reason. That THz bandwidth assumes the radiation is coherent. Using a laser you can indeed transmit high amounts of information, which is how fiberoptic cable works.

          If what you want is an omnidirectional transmitter outside of the visible spectrum, however, then what you keep butting heaqds with is the iron law which says that the shorter the frequency (and thus the higher the bandwidth), the faster the signal strength drops. Hence why 4G has less than a tenth of the effective range of 3G and why 5G, even outside the US, has a range measured in hundreds of feet.

          6G is, in other words, not a reasonable assumption. The effective signal range of every tower would be measured in tens of feet.

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 23 Oct 2020 @ 5:25pm

    only group going to use it.

    Is the Gov. for international work.
    I cant see anything NEEDED past 10MBps.
    If YT send a Video at full speed, not ~500KBps, and not loading Any excess, before you are ready to watch it, a 20 min vid of 20gig would hit your phone and take up all the spare space in about 1 min, MAX. And your Daily cap will start to disappear. YT does it slower as NOT to take All your bandwidth, and you can stop it anytime.
    There is very little reasoning for Super Duper High speed unless you have the Amounts of Speed and Room and DATA needed to be sent. And I doubt that anyone would want 1terabyte of data to be transferred to them in <1 hour.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2020 @ 5:29pm

    6g will violate all known laws of physics and information theory simultaneously! While of course closely hewing to the laws of telecoms being a blackhole for your earnings.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Oct 2020 @ 12:51am

    6g will enable eternal life and instant time travel, even in 3 years time maybe there Might be good 5g coverage in most city's and urban areas in the USA, providing the company's who providing 5g can actually get the spectrum they need and company's spend billions on building the network
    , of course people in low income or rural areas will be lucky if they can get a basic 4g signal
    Telecom company's in America has a mediocre
    Record in building new fibre networks
    its not helped by the fcc being basically a lackey
    for Comcast and AT&T

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


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