“It was the technology that was supposed to change the world. According to carriers, not only was fifth-generation wireless (5G) supposed to bring about the “fourth industrial revolution,” it was supposed to revolutionize everything from smart cities to cancer treatment. According to conspiracy theorists and internet imbeciles, 5G is responsible for everything from Covid-19 to your migraines.
Unfortunately for both sets of folks, data continues to indicate that 5G is nowhere near that interesting.
A number of recent studies have already shown that U.S. wireless isn’t just the most expensive in the developed world, U.S. 5G is notably slower than most overseas deployments. That’s thanks in large part to our failure to make so-called middle band spectrum available for public use, resulting in a heavy smattering of lower band spectrum (good signal reach but slow speeds) or high-band and millimeter wave spectrum (great speeds, but poor reach and poor reception indoors). The end result is a far cry from what carriers had spent the last three years promising.
PC Magazine was the latest to put carrier promises to the test and came away decidedly unimpressed. Networks certainly are getting faster, the report concludes, but it’s largely due to steady evolutionary improvements being made to 4G networks, not newer 5G networks. As such, PC Magazine is forced to admit they bought into early carrier hype promising an amazing revolution:
“We admit it, we bought into the 5G hype. Carriers, phone makers, and chip makers alike have all been selling 5G as faster and more powerful than 4G, with lower latency. So I was shocked to see that our AT&T 5G results, especially, were slower than 4G results on the same network. This is a crisis for marketing, not for performance. All three US carriers showed significantly higher download speeds and better broadband reliability than they did in our 2019 tests. It’s just that these gains, particularly on AT&T, are largely because of improvements in 4G, not 5G networks.”