GadgetGuy looked at the research questions – carefully framed questions and responses can tell any story. We are not saying the questions were biased towards 5G (but the research was paid for by a Telco), but it certainly did not explore if users were happy with 4G either.
One question – “Would the availability of 5G influence your choice of Telco?” drew a 42% positive response. The question should have been far broader and include, “Is 4G adequate for your needs?”
Another biased question – “Given 5G can do XYZ faster/better than 4G (see themes below) are these features important?
- 66% said the increased speed might be important (not whether they need or would use it)
- 42% said increased reliability might be important (4G is already reliable so compared to what?)
- 40% said high-quality video streaming might be important (any flagship 4G phone can stream 4K already)
- 30% said wider network coverage might be important (absolute rubbish – 5G will be a slow rollout compared to 4G’s 98%+ country coverage)
- 36% said enhanced data security might be of interest (any 4G phone using a VPN has this anyway)
This survey was like your significant other asking, “Does my bum looks big in this” – there is no right answer!
So, what are the 5G hype issues?
A group of IT journalists – all tech-savvy discussed the hype issues. What do we need to emphasise, include or avoid in 5G consumer messages? We identified:
- Avoid raising expectations of the massive amount of data/speed 5G is theoretically capable of. The marketing catch cry will be 200x faster than 4G (forgetting to mention you need to be sitting on a 5G tower to get it – lets tone that back to 2x times faster).
- Always remind consumers that speed comes at a cost. At this time streaming of 60-minute 4K content (@25MBps or a total of 90GB) on a smartphone could cost $90 at current prices (there are no unlimited phone data plans as yet).
- 5G will use more data than 4G – empirically we are told up to 10 times the data of 4G. Just because you can stream a 4K movie on a smartphone does not mean that you should.
5G will change expectations about speed and instant gratification – again at a cost
- Telcos will brush over the fact that less than 5% of the Australian continent will have 5G. A 5G phone is really an expensive 4G one
- Retail sales will push 5G over 4G and based on speed and gloss over costs and availability. Call them out!
- Salesman education so far (by vendors) is overwhelmingly overhyped to 5G ‘positives’ instead of focusing on realities and what the consumer needs in a smartphone.
- The advent of 5G should be like that of 4K TV, and that took five years to become the dominant standard at no extra cost over 1K. See GadgetGuy’s take on Do we need an 8K TV
- The real beneficiaries are the Telcos and smartphone makers – not the consumers who will pay through the nose for early adoption.
- 5G is mostly to support future technologies like autonomous vehicles – not required for the consumer’s current smartphone voice and data needs.
- 5G uses the higher mmWave frequencies that do not travel easily through buildings (or anything), so 5G will require millions of new ‘small cell’ towers. Most of the time a 5G phone will just be an expensive 4G one. And mmWave is years away – we have the substandard sub-6GHz in the meantime.
- 5G phones currently use lots more battery
- The potential health impacts of mmWave need further investigation.
GadgetGuys’s take: In writing our 5G Guide we found 5G is not ready, and it is not for all anyway
5G is a step forward. If all goes well, we will see it making a difference for consumers in three-to-five years when most phones will be 5G enabled. Until then only those with specific use cases (high-speed data and lower latency) need to be concerned.
Joe and Jane Average are going to see a massive spike in 5G marketing despite very little coverage or use cases for them. We will see a lot of blue-sky statements and marketing bullshit, mainly from Telcos – don’t believe a word and be assured GadgetGuy will call them out without fear or favour.
On a business/enterprise use case, 5G may offer advantages to the mobile workforce.
If you are buying a phone any time in the next year or three, buy a 4G one and in a few years, consider if 5G is necessary. By then even cheap phones may have it and coverage may be better.
We should not care less about 5G because we should be deeply sceptical of the latest technology and maybe even a little angry with our Telcos rapidly pushing us towards it. We should wait to see what it can do for us – not believe the marketing hype.