Some 5G users think the technology has been overhyped, fail to notice speed improvements

midian182

Posts: 8,463   +104
Staff member
In brief: Remember when 5G was just about to roll out and companies promised it would revolutionize the world? Now that it's seeing more widespread adoption, do you agree with those claims? According to a new study, many people feel 5G connectivity is overhyped and have failed to notice any speed or reliability improvements since upgrading.

Research from UK-based price comparison service and switching website Uswitch found that one in six 5G users feel the technology doesn't live up to its promise. Less than half said they notice faster speeds or more stable connections since jumping to the fifth-generation cellular network.

One of the problems with 5G has long been its coverage in rural areas. That's an issue everywhere mobile networks are found, including the UK, where 17% of those who live outside of urban areas say they've never been able to connect to a 5G signal—three times more than those in cities.

Some mobile users in the countryside can't even get reliable connections to older networks. Only 48% of people in the county of Yorkshire said they could access 4G reliably, and 14% said they often had to revert to 2G.

5G advocates have talked about its lower latency and higher speeds enabling more applications for consumers, including the use of mobile virtual and augmented reality. Many point to the metaverse as one of the biggest areas that will benefit from 5G connectivity. But most people remain apathetic towards the concept, and a recent report predicting most business projects in this virtual realm will close by 2025 hasn't helped increase enthusiasm.

While it might not be living up to the hype for some users, 5G still has the distinction of being the fastest-growing mobile communications technology ever. Ericsson said coverage reached roughly 25% at the end of 2021, hitting the milestone about 18 months faster than 4G. 5G is also expected to have around one billion users by the end of the year.

Part of the reason why people feel somewhat disappointed in 5G is that we're yet to see its full potential; the technology is still in its relative infancy. As 5G expands—it's expected to be the dominant network with 4.4 billion users by 2027—so will the number of applications that take advantage of it. At least that's the plan.

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TheRealSCDC

Posts: 490   +838
I honestly don't notice any difference. Neither does speed test. I think the only way you will see much of a difference is with 5 bars and standing under a tower.
 

Plutoisaplanet

Posts: 885   +1,412
Pretty sure reliability has decreased for me. I also don’t have access to 5G where I live, which has just over 100k residents in town here.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 9,363   +8,581
Definitely over-hyped, especially for those of us that live in a more rural setting. Until they fix this one I would not even consider 6G that is already being hyped!
 

letsgoiowa

Posts: 113   +218
Depends on the carrier a lot. TMO has awesome 5G with midband and that's genuinely much faster. Verizon's "5G Nationwide" is the same or worse than their pretty good 4G LTE. I have never, not even once, connected to mmwave. US Cellular = LOL though
 

envirovore

Posts: 554   +1,020
TechSpot Elite
Since getting a 5G phone the Mrs totally notices the improvement in her calls dropping all the time in the same two areas as she makes the drive to her parents house whereas she had consistent coverage with her 4G phone the entire drive.

We call it 'rona-phone'-ing when it drops calls...based off the very intelligent people that were convinced that 5G caused COVID.
 

nodfor

Posts: 333   +607
It was overhyped for sure but if you look at the fine print, the main advantage would be, being able to serve more devices with less equipment (so good for carriers - at least until the savings get passed on).

5G routers remain very expensive
 
R

Red34jfp

I fail to notice any improvement because I never saw that 5G icon on my S21 Ultra since I've bought it, 5G is basically inexistent where I live (Italy), coverage of the population in 2021 was at around 7%. And the exclusion of Huawei and ZTE from the suppliers certainly didn't help (albeit it's hardly the only issue, lack of demand and the usual bureaucratic slowdowns are also to blame).
 

Phylop

Posts: 61   +54
Folks might not be noticing any difference with 5G because their phone isn't actually getting 5G even though it is labeled as 5G. For example, at&t renamed 4G LTE to 5Ge as a shaddy marketing tactic. So it could be that many customers think they are getting 5G but they are really still only getting 4G LTE.
 

bviktor

Posts: 1,146   +1,683
Anyone with brains can tell, without even testing it. All 5G does is increase frequency and thus increase bandwidth at the cost of range. That's physics basics. Nothing revolutionary here.

Now, is there ANYONE out there who finds (real) 4G speeds insufficient? If you really do (like in rural areas), the problem is that the tower is too far away from you. In which case, 5G will actually make the problem WORSE for you as it requires like 5-10 times more towers.

So yeah, we can most certainly conclude that 5G at this point in time makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 3,312   +4,304
I've been saying this for years. Why the hell are we so concerned with the speed of cellphones when an Android application is only about 25MB in size on average? Hell, years ago when I had my old ZTE Warp (CDMA, 3G), it only took me about 8-10 seconds to download an app through mobile data. Now, with 4G, it takes only about 2-3 seconds.

I specifically remember back in the day when I heard about 4G and what speeds it could do and I thought to myself "What a waste of time and effort!" because I knew that no matter how fast it was, it was going to be a time reduction of just a few seconds and I didn't think that it was worth it. The only real advantage that 4G speed offers is that streaming video now never needs buffering.

Up until 5G, each step had a logical reason other than just "It's way faster!"
1G had only voice, 2G added text capability, 3G added web connectivity and 4G removed streaming lag. Each step up to 4G also increased the data transfer speeds 4x-6x but what people really liked were the new capabilities that didn't previously exist. I seriously doubt that anyone outside of the nuthouse complained about the data speed of 4G.

The problem with 5G is that it adds ZERO new capabilities that weren't already present with 4G. Sure, it's 36x faster but when it already only takes 3 seconds to download a 25MB app, increasing the speed 36x makes it virtually instantaneous but that's still an improvement of less than 3 seconds on a 25MB app install, something that people rarely do in the first place. For everyday use like texting, talking, streaming music or streaming video, there will be absolutely no discernible difference between 4G and 5G, period.

When something takes only 2-3 seconds to download, the biggest improvement that you can hope for is a reduction of just 1-2 seconds. Of course people aren't going to notice it or are going to think that it's not worth it and they'd be right! All of the crap about the 5G network and the drama with ZTE and Huawei was basically for nothing.

I draw a bit of a funny parallel here because I see 5G the way that I see AM5. It's too soon, it's not needed and the performance uplift is something that 99% of people will never notice because it's so overkill at this point that they should have just waited longer.

It actually boggles my mind sometimes how nobody in tech talked about this beforehand because it was so obvious to me. I deliberately chose a 4G phone over a 5G phone because I wasn't willing to fork out another $300 for what I saw as essentially no benefit.
 
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netman

Posts: 854   +387
"One of the problems with 5G has long been its coverage in rural areas"

Not just Rural... I live in suburb and my speed is lower than 4G...!

The main problem is consistency....! 5G is a lot less consistent than 4G/LTE...!
 

CrisisDog

Posts: 273   +159
T-Mobile has been hyping how it should have better reception in dead zones, as it uses a different frequency. I haven't seen any improvement.
 

human7

Posts: 150   +129
I've been saying this for years. Why the hell are we so concerned with the speed of cellphones when an Android application is only about 25MB in size on average? Hell, years ago when I had my old ZTE Warp (CDMA, 3G), it only took me about 8-10 seconds to download an app through mobile data. Now, with 4G, it takes only about 2-3 seconds.

I specifically remember back in the day when I heard about 4G and what speeds it could do and I thought to myself "What a waste of time and effort!" because I knew that no matter how fast it was, it was going to be a time reduction of just a few seconds and I didn't think that it was worth it. The only real advantage that 4G speed offers is that streaming video now never needs buffering.

Up until 5G, each step had a logical reason other than just "It's way faster!"
1G had only voice, 2G added text capability, 3G added web connectivity and 4G removed streaming lag. Each step up to 4G also increased the data transfer speeds 4x-6x but what people really liked were the new capabilities that didn't previously exist. I seriously doubt that anyone outside of the nuthouse complained about the data speed of 4G.

The problem with 5G is that it adds ZERO new capabilities that weren't already present with 4G. Sure, it's 36x faster but when it already only takes 3 seconds to download a 25MB app, increasing the speed 36x makes it virtually instantaneous but that's still an improvement of less than 3 seconds on a 25MB app install, something that people rarely do in the first place. For everyday use like texting, talking, streaming music or streaming video, there will be absolutely no discernible difference between 4G and 5G, period.

When something takes only 2-3 seconds to download, the biggest improvement that you can hope for is a reduction of just 1-2 seconds. Of course people aren't going to notice it or are going to think that it's not worth it and they'd be right! All of the crap about the 5G network and the drama with ZTE and Huawei was basically for nothing.

I draw a bit of a funny parallel here because I see 5G the way that I see AM5. It's too soon, it's not needed and the performance uplift is something that 99% of people will ever notice because it's so overkill at this point that they should have just waited longer.

It actually boggles my mind sometimes how nobody in tech talked about this beforehand because it was so obvious to me. I deliberately chose a 4G phone over a 5G phone because I wasn't willing to fork out another $300 for what I saw as essentially no benefit.

I agree with you on the mobile aspect of 5G. I think the biggest potential capability of 5G is the replacement of cable or other ground based internet for the home. Of course, 5G was in the media hype before Starlink was around, and the articles that were actually worth paying attention to would mention how 5G could break some of the monopolistic hold on parts of the internet infrastructure, provided that the coverage issue could be solved. It remains to be seen how 5G and satellite based internet compete with each other in that space, but either way I see hope for those with horrible ISPs.
 

p51d007

Posts: 3,419   +3,106
Other than running a speed test, I don't keep 5G turned on. I'd rather have the better battery life.
4G is fast enough for my needs.
 

dob_1

Posts: 86   +48
I wonder whether some of this is similar to a problem we had recently with 4G. On a 'lap' around Australia in remote areas we were often under a 4G tower with strong signal but very little data. In remote areas only 1 tower has to deal with all customers, so if a few hundred caravaners are trying to link to one tower, data slows to a crawl! In one location a lady was able to stream TV on 3G because very few people were using that band, when 4G was at 0.1Mb/sec. If 5G towers don't have the bandwidth allocation, they, like 4G towers, will produce slow data flows.
 

Mr Majestyk

Posts: 1,548   +1,450
LOL still don't have 5G and 4G is hopeless as well. 5G was designed for a small % of city slickers to enjoy stupid speeds not required at all by a phone while most rural users can get stuffed. Poor range, poor battery life, higher costs, por coverage, yeah what's not to like.
 

nismo91

Posts: 1,280   +324
Don't forget that most people are still on limited data plan. I bet most if not all people would rather they get more data allowance than a faster way to burn data. just ask around, do you rather get double data plans for the same price per month or double the speed?

if you have a 1000mbps 5G connection, try a 20-sec speedtest and see how much data it burns in one go.