Other than waiting to see how terrible my next flight will be because all the TSAers will have called in sick with the Trump virus, I think I am most excited by 5G.
Now I know you have read and heard a lot about 5G, but may not be entirely clear what it means -- since those who would sell it to you are being pretty vague about just what it is, and even more vague about when you can have it.
If you Google 5G, the first returns on your results are taken up by ads from telecom companies breathlessly talking about “someday soon, maybe” rather than its true availability.
In fact, an ugly fight has broken out among the legacy Bell sisters about who is fudging the facts faster.
One of them took out full-page ads in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today on Tuesday to call another a liar, but in much more sister-like language.
One sister is already putting little 5GE logos on its phones, saying that the E means “eventually.” Another sister says that's misleading -- although the entire family has a vivid history of misleading its consumers on everything from mysterious, unexplainable line charges in each invoice to service that at best can only be described as “No, in fact I can’t hear you.”
Perhaps the biggest “untruth” (to be sisterly about it) is the strength of territorial coverage each claims in its marketing materials versus the actual signal viability. That, of course, and the fact that the phone you are buying for a grand from them consists of about $350 in parts built by about $2 an hour labor.
So, if there are many places in the world where you can’t get decent cell coverage NOW, why should we get all worked up over "more than 600 times faster than the typical 4G speeds on today's mobile phones, and 10 times faster than Google Fiber's standard home broadband service… fast enough to download a 4K movie in seconds?”
As a story about all this in Wired reports: “As each wireless carrier boasts about how it's going to be the first to offer a 5G network, some are developing those networks using technology that sidesteps the agreed-upon standards.”
Lots of sister CEOs spent the week at CES forecasting how 5G will change the worlds of telecommunications, business, entertainment and life on your sofa. Given the track record of most telecom companies to deliver on its promises, you will forgive me if I am just slightly skeptical about all of this. Kind of reminds me of when Google says it will Fiber an entire city -- and then picks East Jesus, Texas, where the cost to install the last mile is $19.45 per home.
Basically, what it comes down to is that the sisters are promising to blanket the country with a gigantic WiFi system so you don’t have to wait so long to see Miss February load. Or that you will be able to complete your withdrawal from normal society by watching crappy movies on your phone in your bedroom all day and night.
Oh, but the sister CEOs are hinting that the movies will now be first-run -- so not only will you no longer have to sit among other humans in a darkened theater, you can break your ankle as you walk down the street absorbed in “Crazy Rich Asians: Before The Money.”
Assuming the upload speed is as fast as the download, you can rest assured that the sisters will be able to accelerate how fast they collect and sell your location data to third parties without your consent.
Unsafe at any speed.