5G and Beyond

Verizon's 5G tech support says the quiet part out loud

Verizon's Twitter support account told customers to "turn on LTE" if they want to conserve battery power on their phone.

The implication, of course, is that 5G drains a customer's phone battery faster than 4G. And the irony, of course, is that 5G is omnipresent across Verizon's advertising machine.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the operator's suggestion generated plenty of coverage among tech news publications. And that spotlight drove Verizon to delete the Tweet in question.

For those familiar with 5G and other networking technologies, the situation comes as little surprise. 4G, and 3G before it, caused similar battery drains in early days, before eventually maturing. 5G clearly is no different.

Verizon offers two "flavors" of 5G, one fast and one slow. The fast one, dubbed 5G Ultra Wideband by Verizon, offers speeds beyond 1 Gbit/s, but only covers around 1% of the US population. The other, dubbed 5G Nationwide by Verizon, is widely available, but is not much faster than 4G.

It's not clear which version of 5G Verizon's tech support was referring to, and it mostly doesn't matter anyway. After all, there's little reason for Verizon customers – or almost anyone else – to subscribe to 5G.

That's because, so far, there are almost no consumer applications that require 5G. Indeed, one of the industry's few widely touted 5G services – the Hatch cloud gaming offering – recently closed up shop.

Carriers continue to plug away at this problem. For example, Verizon offered a 5G-powered augmented reality game to customers who attended the recent Super Bowl game at Raymond James Stadium in Florida.

But such examples are few and far between, and they certainly aren't worth a monthly 5G access fee.

This doesn't mean 5G won't produce revenues for Verizon. The operator continues to flesh out 5G opportunities in the business sector. And there's a good chance that 5G will eventually power all kinds of fancy consumer services in the future, when the market matures a bit more.

But for regular, everyday consumers here in 2021, there remains little reason to leave 5G activated. And just about everyone in the industry – including Verizon's tech support team – knows it.

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Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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