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 Telefónica 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.

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Filed Under: 5g, 6g, hype


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2021 @ 7:02am

    I think it was the late 90's when a device was actually created that enabled its users to smell things over the internet. It never took off because nobody wanted to smell porn and, let's face it, porn drives most technology. Or did until the mid 2000's. And that worked over even very slow connections.

    Something that enables "remote taste" wouldn't require any more bandwidth than smell did. Touch is another matter but it would still likely work over a relatively slow connection.

    Everything they're using to hype 6g is total bullshit unless 6g is meant to be approximately 9600 baud...

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2021 @ 8:25am

      Re:

      Smellascope

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

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 12 Jan 2021 @ 8:08am

      Re:

      "Something that enables "remote taste" wouldn't require any more bandwidth than smell did. Touch is another matter but it would still likely work over a relatively slow connection."

      Well, to be fair they never really did fix the issue with either smell or taste aside from the basic five tastes. The real issue was twofold - that it was almost impossible to analyze the proper composition of the smell or taste, and that it required an advanced chemistry lab on the receiving side to properly synthesize the smell or taste.

      Transmitting the information, though, was, as you mention, achievable across a cheap modem. Essentially just a book's worth of chemical formulae.

      "Everything they're using to hype 6g is total bullshit unless 6g is meant to be approximately 9600 baud..."

      Bullshit, yes, but for a more basic reason than what they hype it for. 5G is already nothing better than a glorified version of your basic household wifi router. With approximately the same range. As the basic inverse square law of electromagnetism states, the higher your frequency (and thus bandwidth) the more rapid signal strength drops at range.

      6G, if it were anything more than just rebranding 5G with better compression algorithms, would have a range barely long enough that someone standing at the base of the repeater tower might get it. If it's a short tower.
      7G, I presume, will be a microwave oven with the door removed.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2021 @ 7:34am

    In other words:

    “Shut up and get ready to consume. Why aren’t you hyped yet?”

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2021 @ 7:52am

    No promises of teleportation, FTL, direct educational brain downloads?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2021 @ 9:59am

    I'm having SCTV flashbacks - first 3D and now smell-o-rama!

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

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 8 Jan 2021 @ 10:56am

    "But what if future virtual reality systems allowed their users to taste, touch and smell as well as to see and hear?"

    While hooked up in a vat of gel as their computers use them as batteries? I think I saw this one...

    "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"

    I'm hardly the target audience for such a person, but isn't the point of "wining and dining" the fact that you're in person spending a lot of money to impress a client, presumably taking them to their own city's high class establishments (and sometimes leading to some... extras)? I'm not sure how him sat on his ass in an office halfway around the world sampling the same code that you can also access is going to make the same impression, especially since you'll logically both have to have access to the same hardware and connection.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2021 @ 12:59pm

      Re:

      isn't the point of "wining and dining" the fact that you're in person spending a lot of money to impress a client

      Yes, and to support the pretense that the client is not getting anything of value—and therefore it's not taxable income or bribery. Personally, I'd much rather they sit on their ass halfway around the world and send me cash, rather than wasting time with fancy dinners. But, corporate policy is that we can't give or receive cash, or near-cash things like gift cards...

      Funny how executives and lawmakers who hang out at fancy restaurants leave an exception for that.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2021 @ 12:52pm

    I guess they are going to have to push computing along several generations and invent a whole bunch of other tech as well. Uh, thanks for the 6G i guess?

    each successive generation looks even less like a breakthrough and more like a mere evolution of mobile technology.

    That's because... this is exactly what they are. Your marketing departments will never be able to change that. I mean, holy cow, it's right in the name, and the name is a descriptor* of the state of a tech development process. Too bad they are already using whole numbers or they could jump on the Chrome versioning bandwagon.

    *Except for 4G in the States, this was also a lie, at least for a very, very long time.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2021 @ 12:54pm

      Re:

      Also, is 6G going to be magically faster than direct fiber? Because i sense another problem.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2021 @ 1:36pm

        Re: Re:

        Also, is 6G going to be magically faster than direct fiber? Because i sense another problem.

        There's nothing magical about that—it's simple physics. The speed of light in most fiber is about 0.6c, whereas wireless signals like 5G/6G travel at more than 0.99c. It's also much harder to run fiber "directly"—in practice there are many right-angle turns, e.g. around street corners or into underground trenches.

        Hollow fiber is an emerging technology that may eventually change that. For now, it's the realm of high-speed trading networks.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2021 @ 1:58am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Let's not forget that there's more to network latency than just the speed of a signal; packet queuing and processing times also add up, eating away at the proportional benefits offered by increased signal speed.

          And there's also the minor detail that mobile networks only form the last mile of a connection--no practical application is going to benefit from a reduction in round trip time that's measured in hundredths of a millisecond.

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

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 11 Jan 2021 @ 8:55am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "The speed of light in most fiber is about 0.6c, whereas wireless signals like 5G/6G travel at more than 0.99c."

          I think he was referring to bandwidth. Because simple physics on the table, please show me the discernible difference between a signal traveling less than 50 meters (which is already stretching credibility of range) at 0.6c as compared to 0.99c.

          "It's also much harder to run fiber "directly"—in practice there are many right-angle turns..."

          Well, yeah, but according to the basic laws of electromagnetism 6G will have the range where if you're standing at the foot of the damn repeater mast you'll already be right back on 5G or even 4G.

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


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