Despite its relentless promotion of 5G phones and the fact that it spent more than $45 billion bidding on a new faster spectrum, Verizon support now is advising people on Twitter to turn off their phones’ 5G access to preserve battery life.
In a Sunday morning tweet, Verizon support helpfully suggested that “one way to help conserve battery life is to turn on LTE” if users found their batteries were “draining faster than normal.” That step would, of course, turn off 5G in a phone that has it available. It’s also worth pointing out that you don’t actually “turn on LTE” when doing this step — LTE is always enabled as a fallback for the 5G network. But Verizon is obviously being cautious so as not to actually tell its customers to “turn off 5G”.
Twitter users naturally pointed out that switching to LTE-only would mean turning off 5G (which is available in some newer phones), but the helpful support person said it was important to troubleshoot “steps to find the root cause of any issues with speed,” adding that Verizon is “quickly launching more 5G areas, and making updates constantly to improve speeds.” Verizon’s nationwide 5G network uses a technology called DSS, which in many instances is actually slower than the LTE network it’s trying to replace.
Verizon announced its big 5G plans for 2021 last month, after formally launching its next-gen network in October 2020. One of its top priorities is expanding coverage of its ultra-fast mmWave coverage, which is currently restricted to parts of some cities in the US. It’s also heavily dependent on how close you are to a Verizon 5G site.
Both Verizon and AT&T spent big bucks in the FCC’s Auction 107, bidding on the C-band spectrum. Verizon spent $45.4 billion— twice as much as AT&T’s $23.4 billion. AT&T’s current nationwide 5G network also relies on DSS with speeds close to or lower than 4G LTE.
The new frequencies won’t become available until the end of the 2021 at the earliest, and will be available in limited locations first.