The 5G Wireless “Pinprick” Charade Harms US All.

Bruce Kushnick
9 min readJul 8, 2019
  • Phone Company Exec: “Stand right about here. Don’t move or you’ll lose the 5G wireless signal.”
  • Phone Company Exec: “I said, where are you going? You can’t go around the block. We put the antenna here so you would stand in this place. Then we give you an expensive $1,300.00 phone to use. Look into the shiny bauble (as he moves it to hypnotize you.).”
  • Phone Company Exec: Oh, the speeds can be 1+Gbps speeds or more. And don’t you just love this shiny tech bauble? (He keeps repeating it until he thinks you believe him.)

As one senior telecom analyst astutely put it:

“5 comes after 4. So there had to be ‘5G’ after ‘4G LTE’.”

To the naïve and inexperienced tech reporters, or the gullible, or those clowns who have been paid and set up by the companies — AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile and Sprint — you either don’t know or you don’t care that this is all a staged ‘what-a-great-future’ presentation. And you’re probably clueless about the sub-plot: This entire 5G debacle is just another technology bait-and-switch which is being used to remove the remaining basic regulations and obligations on the wires, so that AT&T et al. can claim that the wired networks should be shut off. And this vaporware presentation is being used, with the help of the FCC, to block cities and states from controlling their own wireless deployment future.

To those cities who are cutting deals with AT&T, Verizon et al. — You are allowing the companies that should have properly upgraded your city and the state to fiber optics over the last 25 years to play you like a fool by letting their wireless subsidiaries get a free ride, with almost zero serious obligations to build infrastructure throughout your city. In fact, in most states, customers not only paid rate increases over the last 2 decades for fiber optics to the home, but they are now also paying through financial cross-subsidies for these wireless deployments.


Moreover, to the really irresponsible reporters, politicians and companies who don’t mention that 5G doesn’t work except in a few block radius or that all of what we’re being told is just a presentation of some contrived series of ‘tests’ that are being used by the companies to declare that they are in a city. Or, most importantly, for all of you that leave out that 5G requires a fiber optic wire every block or two, or that most of the previous US wireless deployments (in region) have been funded by illegal cross-subsidies using the wired local phone customers to fund the construction of the wireless networks…

— when you leave out basic facts, then all of you are doing more harm then good to America’s broadband future and economic growth.

As documented (FREE DOWNLOAD) “The Book of Broken Promises: $400 Billion Broadband Scandal & Free the Net”, (the third book in a trilogy that started in 1998), details that the history of broadband in America has been a string of broken promises. This bait-and-switch always uses new technologies that will ‘change our lives’, but which never show up on time or as advertised. At the same time, what is now AT&T, Verizon and Centurylink benefited from these broken promises over and over.

There are No “Cities” being Deployed with 5G.

The companies are in their usual ‘tell-them-anything’ mode with the help of the FCC. AT&T claims it is in 19 cities; Verizon claims it will be in 30 cities in 2019.

Yet, these are nothing more than pinpricks; nothing more than a controlled ‘test’ to inflate all numbers and control the press and media coverage. Much of the coverage has been a bunch of cheerleaders with pom poms, giddy about the wireless speed in these tests or the cool phones and things that are coming.

However, some of the reporting is showing us that the cities are not being upgraded and instead we have “fake 5G”, or controlled demonstrations to keep the story of 5G moving.

CNET’s analysis detailed that AT&T announced 19 cities, but the coverage is mostly business and includes “fake 5G”, which can be “slower than other 4G networks”.

“AT&T’s 5G is in 19 cities but is only available to select business customers. Aside from the Warner Bros. studio where we ran our 5G speed test, we’re not sure where to find AT&T’s service for phones. An important note about AT&T: Its 5GE service is not true 5G, but a form of advanced 4G LTE that every other carrier also employs. In some cases, AT&T’s ‘fake’ 5G is slower than other 4G networks.”

CNET rightfully called these 5G deployments “pinpricks” in cities, and this is happening around the world.

5G networks around the world are sprouting up as pinpricks in cities and neighborhoods, largely acting as hotspots that will give your phone some impressive juice if you’re standing in just the right place with just the right device. But move a block farther, enter a building or hop into a car and that 5G connection is just as likely to revert to 4G. Or the connection might hiccup and lose its grasp on 5G on its own.”

Tom’s Guide quotes Verizon, which claims it will be in 30 cities by the end of 2019. But, the conclusion is that you have to be in a direct ‘line of sight’ to get a signal.

“You have to be outside to connect to Verizon’s 5G network at this point, and you definitely need to be in sight of a 5G node on a lamppost or telephone pole. Even then, there are times when you simply won’t be able to connect. 5G remains a work in progress.

“After Denver and Providence, Verizon says that the next 18 cities getting 5G services this year include Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas, Des Moines, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Little Rock, Memphis, Phoenix, San Diego, Salt Lake City and Washington DC. All told, Verizon plans to have 5G connectivity in 30 cities by the end of 2019.

“Mobile coverage is just part of the story for Verizon. Last October, the company launched home broadband service over 5G in four cities.”

More telling, Consumer Reports went searching for the elusive 5G in NYC using T-Mobile.

“We walked around hoping to capture a 5G signal. And when we caught one, we ran our speed tests again.

“Our results were mixed. One moment we had a strong 5G signal, but just a few steps and it would vanish. At times, it disappeared on its own, as we stood in the same place, probably because a bus or a person moved in the way and blocked the signal”.

“Our speed tests also were mixed. We logged 289 Mbps and a still-respectable 152 Mbps, but just a minute or two later, our speeds dropped into the single digits, possibly because we lost our 5G connection during part of the test and the phone fell back to 4G.”

Here are some areas Verizon claims it is serving in the current city deployments.

The $1,300 Shiny Bauble

This is one of the new phones being used in tests with reporters in various stories. At $1,300 bucks (which doesn’t include the actual service), it is hard to see 5G as nothing more than a clown novelty act at this point, even with the sales and promotions that can lower the total costs for a while.

The FCC-Trump Plan: 5G Will Solve the Digital Divide.

Of course rural areas and low income families who were never properly upgraded to fiber optics will now be able to get 5G. When announcing the FCC’s new 5G wireless regulations, Commissioner Brendan Carr actually claimed that 5G would help rural areas, and that the FCC’s regulations were based on state-based legislation that was passed in 20 states.

Carr stated:

“These are commonsense ideas drawn from the hard work of leaders right here in Indiana’s General Assembly and in 19 other state legislatures. By taking your ideas nationwide, we help ensure that every community in our country is 5G Ready. And that will make a difference to American jobs and families.

“In fact, an economic analysis released last week suggests that this FCC decision would cut about $2 billion in red tape, stimulate $2.5 billion in additional investment, and create 27,000 jobs. Moreover, by lowering the cost of deploying small cells, this decision will flip the business case for building 5G and next-gen networks in rural and less affluent communities. According to the analysis, two million more homes will be reached by small cells as the result of this decision — and 97% of those will be in rural and suburban communities.”

Commissioner Carr’s announcement brought up a whole bunch of issues.

§ Brendan Carr was the lawyer for Verizon, as well as the CTIA, the wireless association, before he became commissioner.

§ The state-based legislation used in 20 states was most likely “model legislation”, written by the American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC, whose members include AT&T and Verizon and put through state legislatures by politicians groomed by AT&T, Verizon et al. that get foundation grant money, and campaign financing from these companies.

§ Since 5G has a range of a few blocks and requires a fiber optic wire being put in, how exactly are rural areas going to be served?

Meanwhile, at a press conference with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, President Trump stated:

“Second, to help build the infrastructure of the future, the FCC aims to create a $20.4 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund headed by the agency. This money will extend high-speed broadband to up to 4 million homes and small businesses in rural America. These next-generation networks will bring greater economic opportunity to America’s heartland, including some of the great jobs building infrastructure, and they will help support future 5G technologies.”

This financing is spread over 10 years and therefore is really just chump change, especially, when, in the end, only 4 million customers will be served, (if, of course, anyone remembers there is a commitment or whether the money is diverted to some other project). There was no mention that a fiber optic wire would have to be extended in the rural areas and the likelihood is not high that this will ever happen.


Of course, low income families and people in rural areas will run out and spend $1300.00 on a phone so that they can use a service that may have a range of a few city blocks. Even as the phone goes down in price, there won’t be any serious competition to lower whatever rates, as well as taxes, fees, surcharges and separate fees per device, are imposed.

Digital Trends offers this “dose of reality”.

“Regardless of the claims of anyone looking to serve rural America’s broadband-starved consumers, true 5G or 5G-like connections are years away at best. In the meantime, it’s likely the urban-rural digital divide will only get larger — without any direct government involvement in the near term — especially when it comes to speed.

“The bottom line? Most rural Americans will have to continue to wait, perhaps many years more. But with the speed the technology industry moves, the solution to America’s rural broadband woes may be right around the corner. It’s just wise to not place all your bets on 5G alone.”

We didn’t even have to retouch this clown photo from a video of FCC Chairman Pai explaining why Net Neutrality is bad.

FCC Chairman Pai Clowning Around about Net Neutrality




Bruce Kushnick

New Networks Institute,Executive Director, & Founding Member, IRREGULATORS; Telecom analyst for 40 years, and I have been playing the piano for 65 years.