Published in El Pais, 9 April 2019.
A while ago I wrote about the problem with coming in first place, at least in the technological world. 5G technology has been all over the news as wireless companies are racing to be the first to roll out the service to their respective markets. While I am sure many are curious to see what this new wireless network has to offer I am curious as to why there is such a rush to get to release it.
One need only to look towards the American telecommunications company Verizon to understand where I am coming from. In a bold move the company launched their 5G service in parts of Chicago and Minneapolis and at first glance the numbers seem impressive with speeds as high as 600 mb/s (for comparison the average LTE speed is roughly 50mb/s) but look a little closer and you can see the network has a ton of problems, mainly the network was very spotty with most customers claiming to rarely get connected to the new network. Oh, by the way, this unreliable service is available to all Verizon customers for an additional $10 a month.
So yes, Verizon was the first to introduce 5G to the world but is this really an achievement? With its unreliability many will likely wait until it has something better to offer, maybe even longer than normal as they meet this new technology with great skepticism meaning it is unlikely to bring in any new revenue. In fact companies that wait until their service is more reliable will likely gain more praise, and customers, than those that jumped the gun. What makes this even more ridiculous is that there are so few available phones on the market that are 5G capable so most consumers won’t be able to use the network even if they wanted to, Apple themselves are unlikely to release a 5G phone until 2020.
This lesson can really be applied to all sorts of businesses, and just life in general, that its better to get it done right than to get it done fast. Of course, the benefits of being first can be obvious as it can be an easy way to lure customers if you are the only company to offer a product, but that only works if you offer something they want, occasional super fast mobile internet that you have to pay extra for, does not sound like the ideal product for the consumer.