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'Fake it until you make it': 5G marketing outpaces service reality


In order to imply widespread coverage, mobile phone companies advertise 5G service with pink or blue-hued US maps, but new data shows that the latest generation of wireless technology is only available less than a third of the time in the best-served states.


Developed to be faster than 4G wireless and to have low latency, 5G technology has the potential to enable driverless cars to operate on the road. 5G operating in the low band spectrum is the slowest but has the greatest range, whereas 5G operating in the mid-band spectrum is not as fast but can travel further. The scarce high band spectrum travels only a mile, but it is by far the fastest of the available frequencies.


A new report from OpenSignal found that their testers were connected to T-Mobile 5G 34.7 percent of the time, AT&T 16.4 percent of the time, and Verizon 9.7 percent of the time during their testing. And that is generally not the case for the fastest 5G networks, which many people expect to be available soon.


As a result, the numbers are diametrically opposed to what the carriers advertise about 5G, showing how much they are putting their faith in 5G to differentiate themselves in a highly competitive market for cellular services.


As part of its advertising, T-Mobile claims to have "America's largest, fastest, and most reliable 5G network," which is accompanied by a map that is almost entirely covered in pink, implying extensive service coverage. The fine print of the map does not specify which type of 5G a customer will receive, but it does indicate that it will be a mixture of lower-performing versions. At the same time, the best-performing "ultra capacity" 5G coverage is limited to "hundreds of cities and (for) millions of people," rather than being available across the entire country.


A Global Wireless Solutions evaluation of mobile networks conducted on behalf of AT&T has led the company to claim that it has the "most reliable 5G network" available. As a result, the company states that its 5G+ high-speed network is "available in select high-speed zones and venues in over 20 states across North America."


When questioned about what appears to be a disconnect between advertising and coverage, Grant Castle, T-vice Mobile's president of network engineering, stated that the company is doing well in this regard.


"How large and diverse is our network compared to what I'd like it to be? No, we're still working on it "Castle made the statement.


"5G is still in its infancy," says Andre Fuetsch, AT&T's chief technical officer for network services. "It is evolving and being enhanced through ongoing investment and innovation," he adds.


The National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau National Programs has criticized all three companies for making claims about 5G, including one in August that prompted Verizon to amend its claim about being the "most reliable" to clarify that it was not referring specifically to 5G service at the time.


As Harold Feld of the advocacy group Public Knowledge, which advocates for affordable communication, put it, "5G is currently in the 'fake it until you make it' stage." He went on to say that when new technology is developed, advertising frequently takes precedence over actual deployment.


Poor neighborhoods, and to a lesser extent rural areas, are typically the last to benefit from technological advancements, according to Christopher Mitchell of the advocacy group Institute for Local Self-Sufficiency.


Mitchell explained that in rural areas, what is marketed as 5G is frequently just "increasingly faster 4G," as opposed to what is marketed as 5G in urban areas.


"We do not expect 5G to be available in many rural areas in the near future. T-Mobile has been more conscientious in this respect "'He made a statement. In advertising, I believe there has been a great deal of dishonesty.


On a grander scale, the story is very much the same. According to an OpenSignal report published in early September, South Korea ranks first in terms of 5G availability, with 28.1 percent of the time. It is followed by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Hong Kong, with the remaining ten percent of the time.

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