back to article First Verizon, now T-Mobile: US carrier suggests folks use 2G to save battery

US telco Verizon recently splashed $45bn on 5G spectrum and then advised its customers to use LTE to save device battery life. Not to be outdone, rival carrier T-Mobile US is recommending battery-anxious punters use 2G instead of the latest-and-greatest in cellular connectivity. In a since-deleted support page article for the …

  1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    200k boored

    I love laughing at all these speed complaints because I keep remembering how fantastic it was to upgrade my computer interface from 300 baud to 1200 baud. It was wonderful!!!!!!!

    1. ortunk

      Re: 200k boored

      Ah what a whopping 4x increase that was.

      in the 14.4bps to 33.6kbps era I was pretty able to guess connection speed from handshake sounds

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: 200k boored

        Except that, even on 33.6 kbps, it would take literally hours to load the average 2021 web page...

        Those small speeds only worked for the old gray pages with blue links and one, two at most stamp-sized images. Today you need broadband to load the 100 MB of advertising scripts and huge yet unrelated media composing a page (usually bereft of all useful information).

        1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

          Re: 200k boored

          Back in the old days, developers took pains to optimize their web pages so that the information being transferred would be minimal and still get the data the user want across.

          These days optimization is right out of the window, what with sites linking to google, fartbook and a whole other plethora of hosts in order to gather usage metrics, slip in the odd cookie or two, or dump some spyware (courtesy from the NSA if you're a ne'er-do-well)... because, hey, everybody's gots a Fat Pipe and can slurp a ton of data up in one go.

          An El Reg article from 2016 discussed the fact that the average data transfer size is about 4Mb, the same size of the shareware DOOM version :

          5 years have passed since that original article, and I'm sure that, if they measure the average data size now, it will be more than double the size....

          Seems nobody's interested in doing optimization anymore - just plop it on the web server, and it's good to go.

          Even programs - back then programmers took pains their programs are small and optimized with no hidden routines which'll gobble up precious memory or CPU cycles - nowadays if it runs, doesn't crash and doesn't leak memory, then it's good to go...

          1. ThatOne Silver badge

            Re: 200k boored

            > nowadays if it runs, doesn't crash and doesn't leak memory, then it's good to go...

            Pick one.

          2. ICL1900-G3 Bronze badge

            Re: 200k boored

            So true. I used to work in airline reservation systems. Often a cluster of terminals and printers would be connected to the host by a 2400 baud line, sometimes even 1200. I did some work to use Huffman encoding to make better use of what bandwidth we had available.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: 200k boored

            At my previous employer, we went through three major revisions of the company website over a span of 10 years.

            v1 was created and maintained by an in-house developer. Homepage footprint: 150kB.

            3 years in, the developer was axed and a year's salary was burned to have the site redesigned out-of-house. Homepage footprint: 1.5MB (+ marketing maven hired as content manager as the CMS was not something for casual operators.)

            Ownership changed hands around 2016 and a new-and-improved site was needed to represent the future (read: new logo). Homepage footprint: 15MB.

      2. big_D Silver badge

        Re: 200k boored

        I just swapped away from Vodafone (Germany), from an "up to 500mbps" LTE account to a congstar "up to 50mbps" account, because I was getting 5mbps at home and 0.01mbps at work. With the new contract, I get up to 25mbps at home and up to 5mbps at work. Not stellar, but less than half the price for 500 times increase in speed!

    2. Snake Silver badge

      Re: 200k boored

      You are all speaking from a perspective of a user near, or in, a majorly developed area. In the US there are vast swaths of towns and villages out in the proverbial middle of nowhere, and if they get 3mb service they are lucky. With too low of a population density to justify fibre or high speed cable, they must depend upon telco DSL or even expensive satellite, all at moderate speeds.

  2. ThatOne Silver badge

    Here is our shiny new 5G - Don't use it!

    Well, dissuading people from actually using the thing, which we've all been brainwashed for months to believe will transform our lives into a never-ending fiesta, is a good method to avoid people noticing it doesn't do most of the things we've been promised, like cure cancer, eradicate famine, or save the planet. I'm pretty sure using 5G doesn't even transform you into a young high-income jock and your spouse into a barely nubile hottie. Ads lie!

    Covering the emperors new clothes prevents people from realizing their essence.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Here is our shiny new 5G - Don't use it!

      This seems to suggest to me that there is something fundamentally wrong in the 5G specification; I wonder if the writers actually considered the fact that for most of the time a phone isn't doing anything other than maintaining a "keep alive" connection to a mast and network...

      1. LDS Silver badge

        doing anything other than maintaining a "keep alive"

        Yes, but now it does a lot faster and with less latency!

      2. the hatter

        Re: Here is our shiny new 5G - Don't use it!

        When most people have several apps from, and more using APIs from, at least facebook and google on their phone, plus likely a load of other guff, I doubt most phones have much time when they need a keep alive. At least once they've stepped away from their own wifi and power sockets.

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: Here is our shiny new 5G - Don't use it!

          I doubt most phones have much time when they need a keep alive

          That's been the case ever since mobile networks moved from being voice-centric with a bit of data on the side, to data-centric. When I got my first smartphone - with a claimed battery life of two days - as a non-user of any social media and not wanting to sign up for Google's Play & cloud services, I spent an enjoyable evening turning everything I could off, force-stopping apps, even uninstalling where possible. GPS, WiFi and mobile data would only be turned on when needed.

          Thereafter I enjoyed a normal battery life of perhaps 10 days, maybe as low as a week if I did some web browsing on WiFi.

          That phone is now seven years old, due for replacement, but in daily use with occasional web browsing it will still manage three days on a charge, two days even if I leave WiFi turned on. It has run Lineage OS for five years or so.


        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Here is our shiny new 5G - Don't use it!

          > I doubt most phones have much time when they need a keep alive.

          You raise an interesting point wrt Facebook, Google, Twitter etc, if things were okay on 4G but are not on 5G, that could mean a problem with the (5G) network in that the network is requiring phones to do more to run these background data polls/collections that they needed to with 3G and 4G.

  3. katrinab Silver badge

    Wouldn't using 2G eat up a lot more battery, due to the increased screen-on time involved in waiting for things to download? And risk damage to your phone when you smash it to the ground in frustration?

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      I tried 2G.


      During a power failure.

      I just went to bed. No good in getting frustrated.

      It's good only for whatsapp/IRC/telegram or any chat program which optimizes its data transfer and uses plain text most of the time instead of rich text.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: [2g] is good only for [fluff]

        That, and making actual phone calls. Assuming the phone is in a part of the world which properly acknowledged the existence of GSM/PCN, which maybe some folks didn't.

  4. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Still, T-Mobile correctly asserts that 5G is notorious for being battery-hungry. Endurance is around 20 per cent lower on the iPhone 12 with 5G switched on, when compared to LTE. To compensate, vendors have started including bigger batteries with their devices (it’s not uncommon to see phones with 5,000mAh cells), as well as support for fast charging.

    Expect the return of brick-sized mobile phones. Like the Nokia Communicator.

    1. Notas Badoff

      Battery hungry, yes

      Well, I did wonder at the deafening silence from the phone manufacturers. I have to figure that they see a new round of everyone replacing their cellphones with the batteries we've been asking for all along - sufficient for use.

    2. James O'Shea


      I had been about to replace my old iPhone SE this weekend, but my main reason for doing so is that after 5 years the battery is not in the best of conditions. 'Battery Health' shows 86%. It still works, but no longer can handle serious use without getting dangerously low on power by the end of a day. (When new, I could get one and a half to two days out of a charge, three if I was conservative.) It seems that a nice new iPhone 12 would deliver similar performance... which makes me wonder how it'll behave when _it_ is five years old.

      Yo! Apple! There's a problem here...

      I may investigate one of those battery pack things. Or I may just live with the SE until the iPhone 13, with, one hopes, a bigger, better battery, shows up. It's not as if my area is overburdened with 5G signal at the current time, so the battery issue won't, probably, be that big a deal... except when I _am_ near a 5G tower and need the speed, whereupon the battery will drain at max rate knots. Probably when I can't stop to charge it.

      Bah. Humbug.

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: hmmm

        A new battery isn't that expensive. You will also find your phone is a lot faster after replacing it, as the battery will be able to deliver enough power to run the cpu at full speed.

      2. the hatter

        Re: hmmm

        FWIW, went from a 2x SE household to an SE2 and a 12 mini. Both do the job, and going from two well-abused batteries to new ones is something of a revelation. However, at least for out hands, we've got from a phone you can comfortable one hand (while actaually gripping, not just resting in your hand) to ones where neither can fully be comfortably one-handed. Also, getting rid of the home button/touch id was a terrible, terrible idea, I'm hoping the 13 brings back the button (at least a haptic button, with under-glass fingerprint scanner). because the mini is mine, and I'd upgrade it in due time to 13 that did. And I'd upgrade it today for something in the 5/SE sizing.

  5. cd

    I am close to the end of a trial of a T-Mo MVNO. It is clear that, at least in my area of the US, T-Mo is having issues with capacity and/or config. What happens to me is that hotspot mode on my 4G phone slowly dies, then the phone's access to data dies, then no telephony at all is possible.

    The solution from the MVNO is to switch to another APN and sometimes restart the phone, so in order to use that SIM i need at least two and preferably three nearly identical APN's to switch among as time passes, the expiration being variable. The story being told to me is that T-Mo is reconfiguring towers for 5G. It seems to me that 5G might demand more out of the existing hardware and some gros scrimmage just realised that when he put off some engineers pointing this out he screwed up. Not himself of course, but the customers and shareholders.

    I stuck with 3G during the onset of 4G and can't see any reason why not to do the same with this transition, so it's amusing that the carriers themselves are now suggesting this course.

  6. martinusher Silver badge

    Its all about bloat

    The information content of most web pages is miniscule compared to all the fluff that comes with these pages -- unnecessarily high definition pictures, video and audio snippets and so on. The result is what should be simple web page takes up many megabytes of data. If you're on a fast, low latency, link then you may not notice the bloat but once your bandwidth is restricted then things rapidly become unusable. We can demand -- and pay for -- higher bandwidth links but the problem becomes one of power because however you slice and dice it a high speed link will use significantly more power than a low speed one.

    They key to solving this problem is a rethink how web pages are formed. Currently they seem to be driven by a marketing imperative that overrides any objections about bloat and so download speed. This makes sites unusuable, certainly for me, becuase I'm not prepared to wait while the pages load and rendering completes (and I really get annoyed by rendering that takes a perfectly readable page and then blanks it while its rearranged so suit some layout tweak that a marketer thought was a neat idea).

    The web is a mess. It needs redesigning.

  7. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    2G still exists?

    "It’s also in the process of phasing out its aged 2G network"

    A few years ago, I received a warning from my carrier to trade in my (perfectly good for voice/text) 2G flip phone. I did, but I didn't fall for the offer of a top of the line fondle-slab. Opting for a perfectly good 3G flip phone. Now they've sent me a notice to the effect that my 3G phone will be dying soon. And I should come in for the latest AppleDroid gadget.

    Fooled me once. I'm hanging on to my 3G phone until it actually says "No Service". And then I'll be shopping for the cheapest voice phone that works on the network. I still have my old DynaTac on a car mount. Not that it has any hope of finding working AMPS service. But it's a neat conversation piece.

  8. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

    & There

    Was I expecting a link to the LARP of the Dumnonni Chronicles.

  9. Giles C Silver badge

    The problem is down to simple (relatively) radio waves.

    As the frequency increases towards the millimetre range of the spectrum the effective range reduces. I just looked it up and in clear line of sight one report suggest 500m as transmitter distance.

    Put that in an urban area and there need to be a lot more base stations than 4g. The phone will probably be seeing 20+ radios. All of which will need to handshake and determine signal strength to decide which are the best to use. Each of those handshakes takes power and cpu cycles. All to download a cat video a bit quicker. Couple in using it in an car or on public transport and you could be in and out of a radio range in 20 - 30 seconds

    Yes I know there is more to 5G than just user applications, it just seems to me to be a white elephant at the moment.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      > Yes I know there is more to 5G than just user applications

      Yes, big money!...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      So it's an electronic version of HS2.

  10. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    One month early?

    This has to be a joke. T-Mobile has been eliminating 2G RF bandwidth for years and some of their phones, like my T-Mo Velvet 5G, don't even support 2G.

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