Verizon Is The Only US Wireless Carrier Charging Extra For 5G

from the not-worth-the-hype dept

By now we've established that while fifth-generation (5G) wireless will result in faster, more resilient networks, 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.

The other major problem? Americans already pay some of the highest prices for mobile data in the developed world. Now they're being asked to shell out a lot of cash for pricey new handsets with worse battery life, but more expensive data plans. It was already a difficult, pre-pandemic proposition to explain why users happy with 4G speeds need to pay even more.

Many carriers appear to have understood this. AT&T includes 5G for free on the company's two most expensive unlimited plans. T-Mobile has been offering 5G for no additional cost (though that could change post Sprint merger) on all of its unlimited plans. Verizon, in contrast, has been eager to charge users an extra $10 per month for 5G. Initially the company backed off this surcharge after some negative early press, but seems intent on imposing these surcharges, it claims, because 5G offers a "differentiated experience":

"When you deliver a differentiated service, you can get a differentiated price point," Verizon CFO Matt Ellis explained during a recent investor event. Ellis pointed to Verizon's recent demonstration of 4.2Gbit/s speeds on its commercial 5G network, noting such speeds are dramatically faster than what Verizon offers even on its wired Fios network."

There arer several problems here. One, Verizon's "launched" 5G markets have been repeatedly ridiculed for being spotty at best. Even the company's 5G launches in sports stadiums have been ridiculed as patchy as hell. Asking users to shell out significantly more money to access a network that is barely available doesn't make much sense, at least when you're trying to initially ramp up adoption. Especially given that most users really don't use much more than the top speeds 4G currently offers (anywhere between 10 and 30 Mbps, or so).

The other problem: while Verizon's best case 5G can theoretically offer speeds that rival fiber, "5G" as a standard behaves very differently depending on what kind of spectrum is being used to fuel it. For example, Verizon's making heavy use of millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum, which struggles with range and obstacle issues (like building walls). In other words, for many, the benefits of 5G won't be immediately obvious:

"One major factor complicating 5G pricing is the fact that the technology behaves very differently depending on what spectrum band it's in. For example, the speed of Verizon's network is due to the fact that it runs across wide swaths of highband, millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum. While transmissions in this kind of spectrum only travel a few thousand feet in the best conditions, they can carry enormous amounts of data. While other operators like AT&T and T-Mobile have dabbled in mmWave 5G, Verizon is doubling down on the technology with plans to expand its 5G mmWave network to a total of 60 US cities this year."

Granted, with the T-Mobile Sprint merger reducing wireless competition by 25%, that will likely result in less serious pricing competition and more expensive plans. In turn that could result in AT&T and T-Mobile following Verizon's lead, and charging already cash-strapped American consumers even more in the years to come.

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Filed Under: 5g, fees
Companies: verizon


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Mar 2020 @ 7:17am

    Verizon Is The Only US Wireless Carrier Charging Extra For 5G

    More like they have seen a way to charge more for 4G by selling 5G capable phones without the network to support the use of 5g.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    denledphilips (profile), 27 Mar 2020 @ 7:48am

    very good 5G

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    denledphilips (profile), 27 Mar 2020 @ 7:48am

    very good 5G

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Mar 2020 @ 9:05am

    perhaps it hasn't given enough or big enough 'encouragement' to senators and law makers? perhaps it hasn't received enough in tax-payer funds, interest free and repayment free to make it so enough extortionate profit will be made? or perhaps it's the combination of the whole thing! whatever the reason(s), you can be assured that Verizon and in particular the boss, wont go short of a dollar or two! the only ones to lose, as usual, will be the very people the likes of Verizon rely on, THE CUSTOMERS!!

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

    • icon
      ECA (profile), 27 Mar 2020 @ 12:10pm

      Re:

      with Top exec's making over $1000 per hour, 24 hours per day, 365 days a year.. Make that over $3000 by the last record, thats over $27 million a year..
      Would you take a cut in wages??

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 27 Mar 2020 @ 12:04pm

    Why?

    90% of the USA has enough problems just getting Cable, and Fios is kinda Stupid as it runs everywhere but not to 99% of homes.
    What could you do with 5Gbps? Iv setup a few homes with 200mbps, and it does pretty well. Most Video is 5mbps, and even games generally dont go above that connection.
    The restriction is the modem/routers. They dont need to be that Expensive. The Tech they feed us some times is abit Older. 10/100 mbps network / 300mbps Wireless. when they could have 1000 mbps(1gbps) hardwire connection long ago, and 300-1200 wireless easily, 10-15 years ago. For HOME USE, and any connection to the net is What it is..and the only restriction to speed.
    So, getting a phone that can do 5gbps, would be great if we could use it as a Router to the net with Multiple Wireless connections. With the current internet movies and games, you could have 20-30 connections, but you would need a dedicated Router to handle all of it and keep it from interfering with itself. Placing Antenna's to close to each other causes problems..And shorter ranges.
    This is the only real reason to have this type of speed. replace/bypass installing FIOS to everyone, and probably charge allot more for it.

    I live in a town of 2600, and we have 3 fiber lines thru this town. Do you think I/anyone gets fiber? Nope.
    And recently I noticed that the Phone system is getting a major update, they had 2 Large containers outside and doing installations. who knows, I might get it soon.
    Good luck folks.

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

  • identicon
    Glenn, 27 Mar 2020 @ 2:22pm

    The math is obvious: 5 is worth 25% more than 4.

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

  • identicon
    Overly Dramatic, 27 Mar 2020 @ 9:32pm

    I don't get using frequencies that don't penetrate a sheet of paper. Are we all supposed to go outside and wear an antenna hat that looks suspiciously like tinfoil and a wire coat hanger every time we want to use our phones?

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 28 Mar 2020 @ 8:43am

    If they don't charge more...

    How will they pay for all of the golden parachutes? Think of the C's!

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

  • icon
    TasMot (profile), 28 Mar 2020 @ 11:22am

    A Question About 5G

    OK, so all the big telcos have been complaining about "the congestion" on their lines. Not from the device to the pole, from the pole on out to the Internet. If that's the case, why are they investing in the magical pixie dust of 5G. All that is going to do is increase the congestion, you know, because 5G is so much faster (in the 3 little spots it actually works). Could you imagine if they actually deploy at scale? All of the ----WAY---- over congested backhaul lines are going to get even more congested. So, they are going to need even higher fees and lower caps to "manage" the network. Those 5G fees are going to have to go higher, not lower because once (and if) they ever get deployed at scale, there will be so much more congestion that us poor 4G customers are just going to have to wait wait wait while the 5G devices use up all the bandwidth on the backhaul. What am I missing here?

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

    • icon
      ECA (profile), 28 Mar 2020 @ 1:25pm

      Re: A Question About 5G

      thats whats bothering many. Why increase the speed and bandwidth when whats there is already pretty good for Cellphones. It would be nice to know the reasoning. but they arent saying much.
      In the USA 4g, is around 5mbps, and 5g is going to 1-2 Gbps, Most sites on the internet, dont even transfer that fast unless you have a direct connection to the servers. And 1-2 gbps rivals the speed of data transfer on your home computer.
      Even Youtube has a trick they use to ONLY load your system with Parts of a video at a time, so if you dont want to watch it Can be stopped, and you incur no other fee's from the Cellphone service.

      NOW IF', they are thinking of creating their own backbone, with wireless. That is going to be a pain in the Rear. For all the reasons you can find, short range, can be blocked easily(love rain and fog), that its used Most by our sat weather system is the interesting part.
      What if they are thinking of NOT using cable/hardwire, and just swapping over to wireless for internet. Using Fios/Fiber to every tower(which is about what they do now) they can beat the speeds cable is providing insted of Installing the last mile(this is literally what they think. THE LAST MILE is about all they may get with 5g, insted of upto 40 miles with the older 4g system).
      There are also, some, that think there are going to be REAL physical problems with MANY 5g signals in an area, affecting people.
      Yes, there have been studies on how sound/radio singals like this dont do any harm. But that is probably a short range test, that didnt consider 1000 locally all using this type of signal. As this is in a signal range, where if FOCUSED, is called a MICROWAVE. Anyone wish to test the theory, of 1000 Wide band freq in 5g range, all happening at 1 time in local area??

      there are allot of concerns, and very few answering it that we will listen to.

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 28 Mar 2020 @ 1:50pm

    have fun with this.

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


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