Were rounding about the first full year of 5g availability in several parts of the US course it came during a hell of a year one with an awful lot of financial pressure on the households of those who we intended to adopt 5g.
On top of that surveys keep telling us a lot of folks think they have 5g and to make it even more complex 5g arriving in phases.
There’s this five G, and there’s arguably a better one coming not long down the road.
Two experts from CNET have a lot of clarity on this for us.
Roger Chang is the head of news over at CNET and Eli Blumenthal staff writer at CNET, both them spent a lot of time covering and looking at 5G and managing our coverage of this enormous, Important and sometimes hard to grasp takut Let me start with you, Roger.
If you were to assign them either a report card or a speedometer, whatever feels right to you to how 5g is doing as we start to wrap up 2020 as it met, exceeded or fallen short of expectations and progress, do you think?
Well, I like to give it an incomplete really because it’s still You know, there is still a lot of work to be done with 5G.
To be fair to the carriers, they have done the work to expand out this networks but as you know we’re in extraordinary times right now where people are usually stuck at home and when you’re stuck at home you don’t need a 5G network, given the new 4G network, you’ve got Wi-Fi at home, so really the justification for this technology even for this getting rolled out steadily.
Aren’t really there.
And so, you know, to be fair to the carriers, like I said they’ve done their work to kind of roll this stuff out.
But in terms of the need for 5G, there hasn’t been a real good justification for it.
And interestingly, I was talking to some of our cohorts in our London UK office earlier this morning and they’ve got this government mandate to get gigabit connectivity or something close to it to everybody in Britain, I think by 2025.
So they’re looking pretty strongly at 5G to the premise, which you almost never hear about in the US as a way to provision homes.
Do you think that’s being under sold or under promoted?
Or do we not so much needed in this country?
What if you listen to Verizon base, they talk about it all the time, they do have a 5G home product.
It’s adding just a little bit more than half a dozen markets right now.
In fairly limited deployments, but it’s there T Mobile has also talked about the opportunity to connect more homes with 5g that seems like it’s less of a priority for some of these other carriers even the Verizon it’s in a limited number markets are 36 markets right now the 5g mobile, millimeter wave.
The traditional kind of cellular 5g but the the markets actually like the home broadband service is still pretty limited.
Eli, let me turn to you now about some of the on the ground look that we’re taking and how 5g really works because a lot of people are still trying to get their heads around what it does better than 4g.
We are depending on when you see this video we either are about two or I have posted a look at 5G was sampling of it in four or five different markets New York, Iowa, Louisville, we have our smart home team here in San Francisco Chicago area.
Where do you think we are?
the question I asked Roger in terms of report card or speedometer about how 5G is doing so far.
I agree with Roger.
It’s very much then completed for looking at a speedometer on a zero to 60 scale.
I’d say we’re probably about maybe 30 miles an hour at this point.
We’re starting to see some of the progress.
We’re starting to get some momentum.
But we still have a long way to go until we reach that Promised Land of really, really fast connectivity pretty much anywhere you are The interesting thing that we keep seeing is phone users for more than a year now have six new significantly thought that they have 5g already for various technical and marketing reasons what’s going on with that perception that people already have 5g because nothing will dampen their appetite to get 5g, then thinking they already have it.
Well, you have a lot of and this started primarily with AT&T about, I believe it was around January of last year, where they rebranded their 4G LTE network as 5G or 5G evolution.
This meant your iPhones that were older iPhones have a new logo, it says 5G instead of 4G.
And that would make people think that all of a sudden my network is better.
And to make things even more complicated because why not?
The network actually was getting better.
It was using a later version of 4g L- LTE, a similar version that Verizon and T Mobile have use called LTE advanced, so it actually was getting faster speeds.
But it wasn’t noticeably faster.
It wasn’t anywhere near the promises of 5g that the carriers are touting now.
And it was lacking a lot of the other benefits that I think consumers are less up on like low latency which they often don’t even know that what that is.
High density of connections, greater reliability.
All of that is still coming in a future sort of build out of 5G, isn’t it?
Yes, that all those bigger 5G features.
Those are the ones that you spoke about that will enable things like self driving cars or telemedicine.
Or, one of our colleagues use an example of zoom calls where you don’t lag behind what you’re saying.
All that’s coming and it’s actually starting to show up slowly but surely in the 5g networks are being rolled out now, but yes, at&t is 5g, he did not have that the early versions of 5g, we’re really hard to find.
Those improvements there was more similar to traditional 4g, and what the speeds and experiences you are getting on those networks you’re getting with the early versions of even the nationwide 5g networks.
Roger, we’ve got a big apple event coming up a few days from the day we’re taping again, folks that may have happened already.
Certainly expecting Apple to have 5g iPhones.
Regardless of whether it’s happened or not by the time you see this, let’s talk about the impact of a 5G iPhone this.
Apple has the ability to spread pixie dust on any technology when they enter the arena with it.
How important do you think 5G is to Apple and how important you think Apple is to 5G Well, it’s great way to frame that question because I think it’s 5g absolutely needs Apple to embrace this technology.
Apple, as you said, has a way of turning nascent early technology things like mobile payment things like wireless charging into the must have feature.
Of the year right and so everyone’s anticipating that Apple is gonna make 5g that next big must have technology.
Nevermind folks who think they have it already.
There Apple is gonna educate consumers on why exactly, they’re gonna need this upgrade, upgrade their phones.
And so it is it’s a huge deal and, I think some statistics have said that If once Apple starts selling an iPhone five g it’ll automatically become the second largest iPhone or 5g vendor in the world behind Huawei and keep in mind, Samsung has been doing this for about a year and a half they’ve been selling 5g devices, but the presence of Apple getting to is so huge that almost automatically they become a major player in 5g.
Do you think we have a problem out there with the fact that five G’s arriving with a need for a new handset which isn’t cheap, and a need to ostensibly pay more for carriage although that’ll vary widely by carrier at it Time when people are trending toward less expensive handsets like you just mentioned Samsung, they have this new Galaxy S 20 f e fan edition that has hundreds less than their previous flagship.
new Google devices have recently come out.
Rather inexpensive LG unit our favorite iPhone right now I think is the iPhone SE if you read between the lines of CNET reviews and that is certainly not the flagship 11 Pro the markets tending toward more value priced phones.
Is this an awkward time to ask folks to buy a new phone and pay more for service.
That’s certainly a difficult time to ask anyone who spend $1,000 plus For a new phone that said there will be people who will spend that much money.
Keep in mind the phone is basically the most critical tool in your life right?
You this is one thing you basically can’t let go off.
So,>> Yeah.>> There are a number of people that are willing to spend that much and we’ll see what Apple does in terms of pricing last year with the the iPhone 11 They did actually bring the price down a little bit for the base model.
There’s some rumors that it might go even lower this time.
So Apple might sort of take a cube from what’s going on the world and offer a bit of a break, but still have that 5G functionality.
It really depends on what they show off but I don’t think price is gonna be as huge of a factor Keep in mind that if you are an iPhone user, you know, you’re a lot less likely to switch over to Android at this point you kind of locked into the ecosystem.
You’ve got your apps, you’ve basically invested into this world.
And regardless of what the price is, once this new phone comes out, if you’re two, three years, if you got an iPhone that’s two or three years old, you’re probably going to upgrade to a new iPhone.
I think it’s really interesting what you say about how when Apple enters a market of a nascent technology, it quite literally can make it that technology.
The must have thing of the year.
That’s not overstating their power, is it?
Like I said, with mobile payments, that was a thing that happened for years, Google had been trying to get this off the ground for a long time.
There were a number of players that tried to get mobile wallets and being able to pay at the cash register with your phone.
And people question why you would even need this technology.
But as soon as Apple came in with an iPhone that allowed you to do it, the sentiment turned around automatically and all of a sudden, you know, everyone had to try this out and it didn’t matter that the retailers weren’t even quite ready for this.
She couldn’t quite use it everywhere.
But it still became this sort of must have feature and I think with 5g, because of the way this technology is and what it potentially could enable has a much, much larger potential.
And there’s a much bigger opportunity for the impact 5g can have once Apple is on board with pushing it I know so often we’ll be covering, let’s say, an Apple event and they’ll roll out new features.
And it’s not uncommon to be seeing there’s a reporter and say, yeah, Android does that, Android does that, Android does that.
It’s not about being first, Apple, it just has to be Apple.
And they can bring a spotlight to something without necessarily being at the bleeding edge, which tends to make them a little uncomfortable, it seems frankly.
Eli, let me ask you about the situation out there with 5g for people that are not sure they need it.
We’ve been we’ve kind of been referencing that here with a lot of folks saying you know what, I’m good 4g is good.
It’s worked really well.
I’ll you know, you look at lots of consumers studies and they will show you people not burning to get rid of 4g the way they were 3g that was a painful Form of broadband.
What do you think might convince people, like when you talk to people over lunch or coffee or dinner and they know you cover 5G a lot, what do you say to them that would get them interested in 5G?
Well, just stepping back to To your previous conversation with Roger, I think one of the big drivers could be the deals that are offered from the carriers.
When t mobile was announcing one of their new promotions earlier this year, we actually had the CEO of T Mobile Mike Siebert on a podcast with Roger and I, and he said having a 5g iPhone would be I believe his words were a dream.
For the carrier, so between the new T Mobile sprint, this larger version of T Mobile, that’s now surpassed a AT&T as a second largest carrier.
You have AT & T now at third place which they haven’t been in for quite a while.
And Verizon who as far as 5g footprint goes, is actually in a weird position where they don’t have the strongest network that, Belongs to T Mobile.
You could actually see some real competition from the carriers on making these devices more affordable, and subsidizing them to try to keep you locked onto their network for the next 24 to 30 months.
I think a lot of us are not aware of the fact that there’s been such a tumult in the traditional rankings where it was always I guess, Verizon and AT&T very close at the top and then you always thought about the other guys as The other guys but what a change.
Yeah it completely changes the game and when it comes to convincing people to upgrade the biggest thing is the price and if they can get a deal where they trade in that 4g iPhone and get the newer one with 5g with whatever other new features Apple throws in there, whether it’s Faster processor better cameras better screen.
All that can be really tempting if the barrier to entry or the barrier to upgrade is much lower.
Roger, let me ask you, as we kind of start to put this all into a into a little package here and put a bow on it.
As we look at 2021 What do you think?
Just off the top of your head, I’m asking you here.
What do you think five g needs to Accomplish and or communicate to have a good 21 to really deliver on its promise from the consumer point of view, which we’re focused on.
Absolutely, I think 5g and the folks behind 5g, the carriers, the handset makers, this whole industry that’s really banking on 5g to be successful.
Really needs to explain to consumers why they need it.
Coz right now the key selling point for 5G is FOMO.
Is that if you’re going to upgrade your phone now, well, if you’re going to keep that phone for three or four years, you probably want to get 5G not for now, but for that three or four years from now when the network is really great, and so, Think 2021 is gonna be a lot more than it’s going to be trying to justify why 5g exists.
And I’m an optimist when it comes to this technology, I’ve seen what happened with 4g.
And the fact that you know, apps like, like Uber, Airbnb, Instagram, they all took off after 4g became prevalent, we got faster speeds on our phone.
And so I’m confident or at least of hopeful That one 5G is more broadly deployed.
partly thanks to Apple that developers will start taking advantage of it will start thinking about how to use these higher speeds and that low latency for apps that really do things that they don’t do now, and that’s really the key is figuring out those killer apps.
If there is no killer app right now.
There is no real reason Why you’d want to buy a 5g phone.
I’m thinking about upgrading to a 5g iPhone.
My wife has heard me rant about it for a while now she’s like, why do you really need it?
I’ve heard all your arguments for why you don’t need one.
And it’s true beyond just again.
FOMO really need it.
I don’t think anyone really needs it.
But if you’re upgrading Now’s the time to do it right.>> Yeah it’s it ends up being the 4k TV of phones.
If you’re upgrading you definitely want to get it but are you going to necessarily see a resolution difference and or have a lot of content in it?
That was a difficult sell early on.
In 4k TV era, which I guess we’re pretty well established in now, Eli a lot of what what Rogers bringing up is, the killer app killer use case and a lot of people talk about economic opportunity this will create fancy term for.
What’s the next Uber the next Airbnb the next grocery and meal delivery services that, 4G ushered in.
What do you think 5G might usher in as you do your coverage?
Is there any particular thing that can make possible augmented reality gets mentioned a lot that you’re particularly in favor of, or is it too wide open and early to tell?>> It’s a little bit of both.
It’s definitely in the early stages and also 5G It’s a cell phone.
It’s a cellular network, and it’s something that you traditionally would be using out and about, and a lot of people right now, are very much stuck at home.
So when it comes to looking at where 5G can disrupt, it’s a couple things we touched on before.
It’s home broad band- for a lot of people they’re stuck with one provider.
As the 5G networks improve, sure you may not be going to work, or to school, or to a ball game But if you have another option now for your home provider that could save you some money and provide a pretty good experience potentially even a better experience than what you currently have.
So for home internet, that’s one area I see disruption and as far as killer apps, telemedicine is fascinating to me when it comes to 5g The fact that you can have a conversation with a doctor theoretically was pitched as like you can have a conversation with a doctor around the world or across the country.
Now it could just be a doctor in their office and you at home because people aren’t traveling and to be able to have that in real time.
And to enable potentially some applications that a doctor could send you so that they can see, for example, there was a company I believe it’s called butterfly IQ that had what amounted to basically a portable sonogram and this it’s a stick that connects to your phone and you Can put it over your stomach or over a portion of your body and it can actually allow a doctor to see what’s going on.
And to enable that with 5g and to have those types of conversations or to have those types of experiences could be really life changing for a lot of people.
I’m glad you brought that up.
I’m also excited about the idea of home medical kits that allow us to have an exam without having to go see the doctor COVID or not.
Convenience is always attractive.
Tyto Cares another company that offers those kinds of devices and they will work so much So much better on 5G, because you need that fat data channel.
And then while also preserving a high quality video channel because I think people lose confidence in telehealth when the connection is crummy and halting.
They just for some reason feel like this isn’t really health care.
This is sort of survivalist connectivity.
I think I should go to the office.
So I agree 5G, may have even though it sounds kind of [UNKNOWN] now they may have a huge role.
Literally moving the doctor’s offices frequently out to our homes and talking to Roger Chang.
He’s the head of news at CNET and Eli Blumenthal staff writer at CNET.