5G already changing smartphone user behaviour

14th May 2021
Alex Lynn

A new report by Ericsson ConsumerLab has highligted the impact that 5G is already having on smartphone users worldwide and what they expect the technology to deliver in the future. Indoor coverage is one of the focus areas to emerge from the consumer research, with one-in-five 5G users already reducing WiFi use on their phones indoors because of the benefits of 5G mobile connectivity.

The report – ‘Five Ways to a Better 5G’ - is the result of a large global 5G consumer study. Covering consumer sentiment and perception in 26 markets - including the US, China, South Korea, and the UK - the Ericsson ConsumerLab study methodology is representative of 1.3 billion smartphone users globally, including 220 million 5G subscribers.

The report explores key trends behind the adoption, use and perception of consumers with and towards 5G. A key report finding reveals that even by the end of 2020, increased awareness of service and value benefits could have resulted in 22% more smartphone users with 5G-ready handsets upgrading to 5G subscriptions.

The report also highlights how 5G is already beginning to trigger new use behaviours. In addition to reducing WiFi use, early adopter 5G users also spend an average of two hours more on cloud gaming and one hour more on augmented reality (AR) apps per week compared to 4G users.

However, while 5G users are satisfied with speed, about 70% are dissatisfied with the availability of innovative services and new apps. Consumers say they are willing to pay 20 to 30% more for 5G plans bundled with digital service use cases.

Covid-19 lockdowns and movement restrictions mean that the vast majority of 5G early adopters’ regular experiences with the technology have been indoors. As a result, early adopters indicate that indoor coverage is two times more important than speed or battery life in delivering satisfactory 5G experiences.

The report also outlines five ways for communications service providers (CSPs) to meet consumer expectations both in the immediate and longer terms, including:

  • Addressing the knowledge gap by educating and better marketing the value of 5G to consumers.
  • Ensuring consistent quality of indoor and outdoor 5G coverage.
  • Adapting to network requirements for new 5G services.
  • Focusing on consumer intent to envision new 5G use cases.
  • Accelerating availability of existing and new use cases through ecosystem partnerships.

Jasmeet Singh Sethi, Head of ConsumerLab, Ericsson Research, said: “So far, analyses of 5G network experiences have mostly focused on 5G speeds and availability based on independent network measurements. But it is equally important to understand how 5G early adopters perceive that experience. With Ericsson ConsumerLab’s five recommendations and insights, CSPs can encourage 5G adoption and meet consumer expectations.”

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