The Broken Promises of 5G — Thoughts on Tech & Things

I upgraded to a 5G-capable iPhone model a few years ago, but decided to keep using 4G LTE rather than pay extra for 5G service. A few weeks later, I discovered Verizon had removed tethering support on my plan, essentially forcing an upgrade if I wanted to keep using that feature. From that point on, my in-home and office service and battery life were noticeably worse with 5G enabled. Calls would drop, data was slow, and I’d be lucky to get half a day of regular use before needing to recharge—likely due to the poor signal penetration into my home.

Eventually, I turned on WiFi calling as a workaround to maintain basic phone functionality without relying solely on the flakey mobile data connection. Over time, Apple has improved power optimization on newer models, so it is no longer as big a drain on battery life, but service in buildings still feels worse.

The 5G experience has disappointed me in other ways too. I travel frequently, and hotel WiFi is often so poor that I’ll use my phone’s data instead as a backup. Like clockwork, by day two, my service gets throttled to the point my device is unusable until the next billing cycle, but isn’t this supposed to be the promise of 5G? Yet these same companies suggest I ditch fiber or cable for in-home 5G? No thanks.

To me, 5G feels like a joke and a money grab since launch. If network providers truly want mainstream adoption, then become a “dumb pipe”—let customers connect any device they want under a single service plan, like plugging a phone line into your home. The early Internet boom happened because people could experiment freely on phone networks. Today, artificial limits on approved hardware and uses only restrain innovation.

Opinion