6G Hype Is Already Getting Stupid, When 5G Hype Hasn't Even Finished Disappointing Us Yet
from the maybe-just-stop-talking-for-a-bit dept
We’ve noted repeatedly how fifth-generation wireless (5G) was painfully overhyped. To spike lagging smartphone and network hardware sales, carriers, equipment makers, and the lawmakers paid to love them spent years insisting that 5G would change the world, ushering forth amazing new cancer cures and the revolutionary smart cities of tomorrow. But while 5G is an important evolutionary step toward faster, more resilient networks, it’s not some magical revolution, and US 5G speeds so far have proven to be much slower than overseas counterparts, and in many instances actually slower than 4G.
You’d think industry and experts would view this as a sort of cautionary tale about hype. You’d think pundits and industry would understand that by over-promising what 5G is capable of, they’ve associated the branding with empty hype and bluster in the eyes of the public. You’d be wrong.
Some wireless industry executives have already started insisting that 6G will be a lot like The Matrix (it won’t). And this week, telecom trade magazine Light Reading cited a few companies and experts who are already arguing that 6G will somehow enable Star Trek-esque transporters and the ability to taste and smell things over the internet. Seriously:
“But what if future virtual reality systems allowed their users to taste, touch and smell as well as to see and hear? Seated in their New York or London homes, executives could effectively teleport themselves to Barcelona’s gothic district for the full gastronomic accompaniment to their deal-making banter.”
To be clear, 6G isn’t even a thing yet. It’s a future standard that hasn’t been developed yet. And the technology to taste or smell things over the internet doesn’t exist either, though the idea has long been tinkered with. The idea that 6G will be akin to magic appears to have come from a few academics, tasked with trying to imagine futuristic ways companies can monetize future network standards:
“Tafazolli and his colleagues are determined to break this pattern. In their view, the setting of hard targets for connectivity speed has brought little payoff for operators while lumbering them with multi-billion-dollar bills for the rollout of more advanced networks. By simply cranking up the bitrate or cutting latency, each successive generation looks even less like a breakthrough and more like a mere evolution of mobile technology.
“They give users something to play with, but they don’t really generate more money,” said Hendon. “We are trying to do things in a completely different way.” A businessman who does not have to fly around the world to wine and dine his clients might be willing to spend quite a bit more on his mobile service, he said.”
In many countries (Canada, America), consumers already pay some of the highest prices in the world for mobile data. Carriers are mad that they weren’t able to charge customers even more money for 5G. Verizon tried to charge consumers $10 extra per month just to connect to 5G networks, but then had to back off the ambition after consumers (quite correctly) failed to see the value proposition. Especially given US 5G speeds (so far) are a flimsy disappointment.
With net neutrality dead (for now), and US carriers already discovering creative new ways to nickel-and-dime consumers (like charging you extra for HD, or charging you extra to have your games and music throttled), there’s really not much doubt that providers would love to charge you extra to enjoy simulated scents and smells over your wireless connection. But at this juncture, fresh off 5G hype, it’s just kind of silly to take seriously.
The whole premise appears to be little more than a thought exercise by a few academics working in concert with industry on ways to justify higher rates, though it’s obviously dressed up as something more noble and intellectual than all that:
“This is not just a university having a bright idea,” said Hendon. “Vodafone and BT and Telef?nica have all signed up to this ? they understand it as well as we do, and we are responding to what they say.” Putting the operators’ commercial interests and pressing need for a growth story ahead of the technology considerations could help this particular initiative to stand out.”
On the one hand, there’s nothing wrong with creative thought exercises that try to envision the technologies of tomorrow. But fresh off of consumer disappointment with 5G, caused directly by three straight years of bullshit and hype about what the standard is actually capable of, you’d think folks would be a little more careful about tempering expectations moving forward.