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Dear wireless carriers: the 5G hype needs to stop

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Please, we are so very tired

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Illustration by William Joel / The Verge

Just stop. Stop telling us why your 5G network is the very best and fastest and most reliable. Stop running commercials about how life-changing your 5G network is. Definitely stop telling us why your 5G network is better than the other guy’s 5G network because can you even imagine building a 5G network the way they have? Please stop with all of this, it’s been a very long year and we’re tired.

It would be one thing to make all of these fantastical claims like you do if any of them reflected any real person’s experience. They don’t. Your 5G networks are just not that good yet. They’ll get better, and that’s nice! But please stop pretending like the 5G train has pulled into the station and all we have to do is get on board to be whisked away to the low-latency, Gigabit future when you’re still building the tracks. And the train station.

We’re tired of false starts. First there was 5G Evolution, which sounds exciting. It rhymes with revolution! But then it turned out to be just another name for LTE, which was a bummer. Then there was mmWave, which you called Ultra Wideband because it sounds cooler. It will drive cars, do surgeries, fly drones, you said. You’ll experience download speeds on your phone so astoundingly fast that your sunglasses will fly off your face just being so close. And sure enough, the speed was impressive, that one time we were on the right street corner trying to download a whole movie. But then the crosswalk signal turned green and we kept walking, and we lost the signal.

Now we learn that Ultra Wideband suddenly means mmWave and C-band, and that C-band will actually change everything and we’ll have to pay more if we want to use it. This is confusing, we’re tired, and now we have to go look for our sunglasses. So please let us know when you’ve settled on whatever frequencies will actually change our lives.

We know you’re excited about how you’re building your 5G network, but please don’t explain to us in detail why your spectrum is the best spectrum and the other guy’s spectrum is garbage. You sound like a kid who wrote a PowerPoint presentation for her parents with a point-by-point argument for why she deserves a later bedtime. We, the general phone-using population, do not care to be dragged into these details. Just build the network and we’ll see for ourselves if it really is great.

You’ve spent a lot of time recently breathlessly telling your shareholders why you won the C-band auction. We’ve been scraping the bottom of the barrel on live sports entertainment over the last year, but last time we checked, a federal spectrum auction is not the Super Bowl! Nobody’s keeping score! Unless you’re playing Calvinball, you can’t declare something to be a sport, run around the field, then put on a referee uniform and say that you won.

This may come as a shock, but we don’t cheer for our wireless carriers as if they were baseball teams. We don’t trash-talk our friends about how our carrier’s 5G network is absolutely crushing their carrier’s 5G network. We don’t ask them how they can live with themselves knowing that their carrier is building their 5G network the wrong way.

We all just want our phone service to work when we need it. We want to tweet our stupid tweets, share our dumb pet photos, follow our actual baseball teams, and do so with as little inconvenience as possible. Sure, we want faster service! But we don’t want to know how the sausage is made. Please stop for now and let us know when you’re ready to serve it.