Verizon lets slip its 5G can significantly increase phone power use

US telco Verizon seems to have been accidentally honest in a tweet from its support team admitting that turning off 5G can help conserve battery life.

The tweet was sent yesterday and subsequently deleted, but not before the Verge could screenshot it. “Are you noticing that your battery life is draining faster than normal?” opened the Tweet from VZWSupport, who for some reason feel compelled to litter their mostly trivial tweets with emojis. “One way to help conserve battery life is to turn on LTE.” It then explained how.

It seems ‘turn on LTE’ is another way of saying ‘turn off 5G’ as it’s apparently a straight binary choice in Verizon phone settings. The fact that you have to turn on LTE at all supports that assumption as nobody would knowingly turn it off, not unless they hardly ever wanted a mobile signal. When Twitter users pointed this out Verizon presumably regretted its experiment with the truth and deleted the tweet.

Verizon blew an astonishing $45.5 billion on mid-band 5G spectrum last week’s US C-band auction, far more than any other participant. One of the main reasons for this will have been the fact that it was distant third in mid-band spectrum holdings prior to the auction, having decided to bet heavily on millimetre wave instead.

The reason this is relevant is that many Verizon 5G phones will be attempting to use mmWave, which presumably requires more power to use thanks to its poor propagation characteristics and the needs to lean heavily on technologies such as massive MIMO and beamforming. Verizon seems have inadvertently admitted that through the ill-judged tweet.

This comes as Verizon continues to insist it’s ‘aggressively’ rolling out 5G across the US. Last week came the bombshell that parts of Sacramento, Seattle and Pensacola can now get its 5G. “Customers in these cities can now take advantage of revolutionary, game-changing technology, with access to download speeds and bandwidth that can power the future of wireless and home broadband applications and solutions,” said Kyle Malady, Verizon’s CTO.

This kind of compulsive hyperbole is always going to make life difficult for the social media team. If Verizon execs keep publicly insisting everything the company does is ‘game-changing’ then any admission of fallibility becomes untenable. If the 5G service was already so revolutionary then why did you need to bet the farm on loads more spectrum, eh Kyle?

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