What should I write about next for the Boston Globe opinion page?

I just posted another op-ed about Facebook.

It’s here (subscription may be required).

My next opinion piece can cover anything about technology, business, or marketing and how they are failing us, could be different, aren’t viewed properly, or whatever.

If you had this megaphone, what would you shout about?

One response to “What should I write about next for the Boston Globe opinion page?

  1. 5G and how it’s nothing but marketing bs aimed at selling something no one needs.

    A recent note I sent to a tech writer at a major magazine regarding this article https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/25/tech/what-is-5g/index.html

    — START —

    I read and watched your “article” on 5G, and the number of things that are wrong with what you wrote are almost too numerous to list. Let me pick on just the most obvious errors:

    1) Quote from your article: “5G is primarily about three new things: Faster speeds, faster connections and faster access to the cloud.” Let’s take it one at time…

    Faster speeds:
    If I have a 5G phone, it can do NOTHING that my 4G phone can’t do.
    – I can’t talk any faster because I have 5G
    – I can’t text any faster because I have 5G
    – I can’t watch a movie any faster because I have 5G

    Faster connections:
    What do you mean by “faster connections”? Are you talking about bandwidth, or latency?

    Faster access to the cloud:
    What’s an example of something in the cloud that I need faster access to that I can’t get with 4G/LTE today? (I don’t think there is one thing that you or the telcos can name that requires 5G, that can’t be done with 4G/LTE today. In fact, in every case that I can imagine, 4G is either as good as or better than 5G.)

    2) Quote from your article: “Like every “next generation” wireless network technology, 5G will give your phone a speedier connection — up to 100 times faster than 4G. That’s enough to stream “8K” video or download a 3D movie in 3 seconds. (On 4G, it would take six minutes.)”

    If I have a good connection I will stream the video, I don’t need to download the whole thing. And I can do that today with 4G. (and no, you can’t see 4K over 1080p on your phone, never mind 8K!)

    Let me give you a real world example: I commute across the San Francisco Bay every morning by ferry, and I can watch streaming videos all the way across the bay. Why? Because the 4G signal will travel a mile or more. Will I be able to do that with 5G? Nope. Why? Because the signal doesn’t travel as far (just read this sentence from your article “they get considerably weaker over long distances”)

    3) Quote from article: “But 5G is about much more than smartphones. Sensors, thermostats, cars, robots, and other new technology will all connect to 5G one day. Today’s 4G networks don’t have the bandwidth for the vast amounts of data all those devices will transmit.”

    This sentence is complete BS. Most sensors are in the home, or connected to the internet today via wifi or a hard-wired connection. And most sensor data is so small that even if you needed to use the cellphone network, the existing 4G networks are more than adequate. Think about a Nest device. How much data do you think it sends back and forth? It probably sends the temperature (2 bytes) about once a minute, and the response packet contains any commands to the device. This amount of data (maybe 200 bytes total) is so small and infrequent that it could be easily sent with a text message or a 50 baud modem, never mind needing a 5G network running at 100Mbps.

    4) Quote from your article: “5G networks will also reduce to virtually zero the latency, or lag time, between devices and the servers they communicate with.”

    I keep reading this statement about 5G, and can’t believe no one questions it. Because unless the laws of physics have been recalled, this is complete BS. Let’s talk about the amount of latency between your phone in San Francisco and a Microsoft website in Seattle. It’s made up of the following items: First, the 5G radio has to wake up (10-50ms). Then it has to make a connection to the cell tower (10ms). Then it has to put that connection onto the internet (1ms). Then it has to send the request to Seattle (5ms). Then the website has to respond (100ms). And finally the response has to go back the other way (10ms). For a minimum roundtrip latency of between 135ms and 175ms. The only possible place where 5G can be faster than 4G is in the radio wake up and connection to the cell tower, meaning that 135-175ms connection today can get no faster than about 95-135ms. It’s not going to get anywhere close to this “1ms” nirvana that they keep claiming.

    (good article on latency in mobile networks here https://www.igvita.com/2014/04/21/uplink-scheduling-in-4G-networks/)

    5) And there are plenty of other obvious fallacies:

    A) Self-driving cars.
    You would NEVER build a self-driving car that relied on 5G. What happens when you go around the corner and the 5G signal goes away? No, self-driving cars will always have their software running in the car, it will never be running “in the cloud”. And if there was a need for cars to communicate at an intersection (for example), they would use a local mesh, they would never rely on a 5G signal.

    B) Smart cities
    Smart cities require bandwidth, and you’d be much better off with fiber. Not only does fiber have higher bandwidth, it has less latency than 5G, it’s cheaper to install (since it’s already in place to provide bandwidth to those 1000s of 5G antennas), it uses a lot less energy, and there’s no health risk with fiber.

    C) Virtual reality.
    Fiber + wife will provide a better, and cheaper, overall experience.

    D) Robots
    Nothing about robots requires 5G. Most robots will be in an industrial environment which will have fiber + wifi. And as we’ve seen with the robots in the Fukushima nuclear reactor in Japan, there’s no need for 5G to control robots.

    E) Surgical procedures.
    Really? What are they going to do, put a 5G antenna in the operating room? So here again fiber + wifi is a much better way to go here.

    6) There are at least 5 more sentences that are wrong as well.

    Bottomline, your article felt more like “paid content” by the likes of Verizon and/or Sprint and/or Samsung, rather than an unbiased article or editorial. Never mind that essentially the same content appeared on the same day — February 25, 2019 — in the following locations:

    Verizon: 5G will take connectivity to the next level https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8Da9LS0RJ4

    Fox News: 5G technology is about to sweep the world – We can’t imitate the Chinese and abandon marketplace principles https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/5g-technology-is-about-to-sweep-the-world-we-cant-imitate-the-chinese-and-abandon-marketplace-principles

    PC Mag: Race to 5G: February 2019 Update https://www.pcmag.com/article/366547/the-race-to-5g-begins

    Phsy.org: 5G is coming: what can we expect? https://phys.org/news/2019-02-5g.html

    MacRumors: Sprint Launching 5G Network in May Starting in Four Cities https://www.macrumors.com/2019/02/25/sprint-5g-network-launch-date/

    Wall Street Journal: 5G: February 2019 https://www.wsj.com/news/collection/five-g-february-2019-951db95b

    SamMobile: SamMobile Daily Recap, February 25, 2019: Galaxy S10 5G hands-on, Galaxy Fold, Galaxy A50 and more https://www.sammobile.com/2019/02/25/sammobile-daily-recap-february-25-2019-galaxy-s10-5g-hands-on-galaxy-fold-galaxy-a50-and-more/

    NYTimes: Why Controlling 5G Could Mean Controlling the World https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/25/podcasts/the-daily/5g-technology-huawei-china-us.html

    Washington Post: Sprint’s 5G wireless launch, planned for May, could be the country’s first https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/02/25/sprints-g-wireless-launch-planned-may-could-be-countrys-first/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.7a32a3e7107a

    — END —

    Yep, paid content, full of misstatements, for companies desperately looking for another way to fleece consumers.

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