There Is No 'Race To 5G.' And The U.S. Wouldn't Be Winning Even If There Was

from the hype-over-substance dept

Data continues to indicate that despite ridiculous oodles of hype, U.S. 5G networks aren't much to write home about. According to a recent study by OpenSignal, the U.S. ranked dead last in terms of 5G speeds in a 14-country comparison, largely due to our failure to make mid-band spectrum available for public use. Other reports have repeatedly shown that many initial 5G networks are actually slower than existing 4G networks. Not a great look given the months of DC rhetoric about how the U.S. is in an urgent "race to 5G." In reality, it's less of a race and more of a drunken stumble.

While carriers (usually falsely) advertise massive 5G coverage and reality bending improvements at the hands of 5G, consumers' first impression continues to be of the underwhelming variety:

"Millions of people are experiencing 5G for the first time this month. And I imagine they're asking: Is that all there is? 5G hit a new level of success in the US in October with the launch of the first 5G iPhones and Verizon's "nationwide" 5G. But the vast majority of Americans are currently getting a 4G-like, slow 5G experience that doesn't reflect the lofty promises we've been hearing for the past few years."

With smartphone innovation and sales plateauing, wireless carriers and handset vendors alike have been eager to portray 5G as less of a modest evolution and more of a revolution. Claims of 5G all but curing cancer have been common, as have claims that the technology will quickly usher forth the smart cars and smarter cities of tomorrow. 5G hype has also been used to spur network hardware sales, and has also proven useful to goose national security worries by folks eager to heighten tensions with China and boost subsidization of entrenched telecom giants.

But again, if it's a race, the U.S. sure as hell isn't winning it:

And this is just overall speed we're talking about. News outlets, network data nerds, and lawmakers alike routinely fail to discuss price. U.S. consumers already pay some of the highest prices in the developed world for mobile data, a trend that shows no sign of slowing down with 5G. Especially given our recent decisions to all but lobotomize FCC regulators, eliminate net neutrality (which helped control efforts to further nickel and dime U.S. users), and our utter obsession with rubber stamping competition-killing sector consolidation. The race to lower prices (the top request in most consumer surveys) is utterly nonexistent.

There really is no race to 5G. It's a giant pile of lobbyist nonsense. Users in China aren't impacted by whether users in Australia or the UK have access to marginally faster networks. And our broadband coverage maps here in the States are so terrible (often by design), the idea that the U.S. could even accurately measure who's "winning" the deployment race is laughable in and of itself.

5G absolutely will ultimately deliver better speeds, lower latency, and more reliable networks over the next five years. But again, it's more of a slow, steady evolution than some type of magical, game-changing revolution. But modest evolution doesn't sell smartphones and network hardware, so here we are.

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Filed Under: 5g, race to 5g


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  • icon
    TasMot (profile), 10 Nov 2020 @ 7:17am

    And it's hard to find "for sure" where 5G is Deployed

    If you look at the Verizon 5G map link, nowhere does is show just 5G. If you are "*nal" enough to know to look at the Legend and carefully read the entry for "Nationwide 5G", it actually says "5G Nationwide Includes 4G LTE coverage". So, no way to know if there is any place that is actually 5G without getting a 5G phone and bringing it to that exact location and trying it (which is usually after signing a long term contract for a very expensive phone and bringing it there only to find out it doesn't actually get 5G).

    I'll just stick with my existing 4G LTE phone for a while until there is some real buildout. Even then with the same speeds and being more expensive, I may just stick with getting a new 4G phone when I need one.

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

  • icon
    Koby (profile), 10 Nov 2020 @ 7:24am

    Differentiate

    Mentioning 5G is just something for a commercial advertisement. Otherwise, they might have to compete on something else like price. It's better for the telecoms to hype themselves up on something for which they can charge more, and then deliver on a nebulous timetable.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Nov 2020 @ 8:03am

    Millions of people are experiencing 5G for the first time this month.

    While I admit I couldn't care less about trending products, is there even a phone/phones the support 5G that are selling millions per month?

    That statement alone sounds... doubtful to me.

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

    • icon
      TasMot (profile), 10 Nov 2020 @ 10:30am

      Re:

      Apple just started selling the new iPhone that has 5G. There have been a few Android phones for sale by Verizon that are supposed to support "real" 5G. Unlike the AT&T 4G LTE phones that magically started to support 5G with a software update of the icon - 5G is a new hardware standard so software just can't do it).

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 11 Nov 2020 @ 1:12am

      Re:

      "is there even a phone/phones the support 5G that are selling millions per month?"

      iPhone 12 supports it, as does the Samsung Galaxy S20 and several other popular Android devices.

      "That statement alone sounds... doubtful to me."

      A quick Google search would have relieved you of that doubt.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Nov 2020 @ 8:12am

    I've seen ads for 6G already.

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

    • icon
      TasMot (profile), 10 Nov 2020 @ 10:28am

      Re:

      For a while equipment suppliers such as Comcast and Verizon were advertising for home Wi-Fi routers as 5G. Then 5G mobile came along and they changed all the Wi-Fi advertising to 6G (with no visible new features except the name change). Buyers beware of the name change for Wi-Fi only.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Nov 2020 @ 8:28am

    I use a phone for phone and text.

    Can't for the life of me figure out how 5G would help in that. Text doesn't go till you hit the send button and then is near instantaneous. Voice on the phone long to was figured out and it too arrives near instantaneous.

    How is more speed and hence the higher bill for phone and service gonna improve that to the measurable degree that makes it worth paying more?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Nov 2020 @ 9:34am

    the things the USA seem to be really good at, apart from bullying, catering for certain industries, ensuring that members of the government can keep getting campaign contributions, regardless of which side is in the White House, can continue to make sure that the security services can do whatever they like (including killing) to who they like, with complete immunity, piss off every other country on the Planet because it feels it has the right to do that but no other country can do/say a thing that the USA doesn't like, is to make total twats of themselves! look at this latest escapade! has any other country been in this position that the President wants to be in office until he dies, refuses to quit office and accuses the election winner of all sorts of shit-tricks, gets HIS APPOINTED ATTORNEY GENERAL TO BEGIN ELECTORAL FRAUD INVESTIGATIONS, just to try to stay in position? this doesn't happen in Africa etc for goodness sake! Jeez, come on!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Nov 2020 @ 9:42am

    "this doesn't happen in Africa etc for goodness sake! Jeez, come on!"

    Must have been sarcasm.
    Idi Amin

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 10 Nov 2020 @ 12:40pm

    confusion of the masses.

    You would think the FCC/BBB/others would be jumping to this to figure things out.
    There are so many formats and speeds its abit silly.
    I have LTE, and its up into the 70mbps/7mbps. Which is pretty good int he first place even if it was for Home internet.

    But are we in the middle of a Lie/cheat/steal thing that NO gov. agency is paying attention to. Or enough money to cover their own Ends.

    (real?)
    https://www.statista.com/statistics/896768/countries-fastest-average-mobile-internet-s peeds/

    (FAKE?)
    https://www.pcmag.com/fastest-mobile-networks/2020

    (dependable?)
    https://www.speedtes t.net/reports/united-states/

    (2017)
    https://www.vox.com/2017/6/7/15747486/united-states-developed-wo rld-mobile-internet-speeds-akamai

    (Chipsets?)
    https://www.techrepublic.com/article/oneplus-dominates -smartphone-network-speeds-iphone-and-huawei-trail-behind/

    There is so much BS floating around, and counter adverts to defeat FACTS, then there is an EXCUSE. That no other nation has the terrain and WIDE open spaces that the USA has, which makes it a hassle to Do anything with the Cell system.
    But its amazing that the freeway system seems pretty well covered, and it used for tracking Large trucking, and Smart cars.
    There are still dead zones, NOT on the maps. There is the declaration that the maps Show Where they are building for the future. Which seems to be over 1/2 of the map areas covered.

    Who wants/can take these people to court and handle being there for 5-10 years Fighting False adverts? And promises that They will do it in the future.

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


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