If I learned anything from attending three 5G-focused events over the past week it’s that everyone wants to talk about how 5G will change the world but no one really knows how that’s going to happen. In fact, it was quite difficult to find anyone with a specific 5G use case.
For those keeping score those three events were AT&T Spark, Intel 5G Summit, and Mobile World Congress Americas.
Now, I am all for big ideas and for those people that pontificate outside the box in support of a new technology. These people are essential if we are going to eventually be subservient to our Skynet overlords.
But when it comes to 5G the hype is out of hand. I lived through the 3G and 4G hype, but I don’t remember it being quite as insane as the 5G hype.
The problem I have with the current hype around 5G is that people are talking about how the technology will change the world but no one can provide any real detail on one particular 5G use case. Instead, all of the answers are from a fire hose. They seem to think that 5G isn’t any one thing because it’s everything.
And as with something that tries to be good at everything, it fails to be great at any one thing.
In fact, several times when I asked someone from a vendor or carrier what specifically they had in mind for 5G, that person inevitably took a deep breath and proceeded to rattle off a host of answers like they were reading the same PowerPoint bullet points for the umpteenth time.
As impressive as that was in its repetitiveness, by the time I heard “autonomous driving” for the umpteenth time my mind had already moved along to thinking about what life was going to be like under the coming Skynet regime.
Verizon seems to be the only company willing to actually stake a claim as to what 5G will be, at least initially. The carrier said it will launch a pre-standard fixed wireless broadband service based on 5G technology on October 1 in four markets to anyone who can get a signal. Better yet, it’s offering unlimited access to the service for as low as $50 per month.
Basically Verizon is throwing its early 5G eggs into broadband. Brilliant!
That may not be sexy and it probably will not change the world, but at least there is a business case behind it. And more importantly at least it’s a specific 5G use case.
Is Hype the Future?
I know hype is an important part of all new technologies and if anything, this past week only reinforced that importance. But typically that hype tends to moderate as a technology launches and people focus on what is real and what is hyperbole. With 5G networks literally on deck you would think that timing should be now. But instead we are still neck-deep in hype.
Perhaps 5G’s real world changing use case will be in how hype is delivered. I guess that’s something.