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No 5G silver bullets on horizon but a third of UK consumers plan to buy 5G handset this year

Research from Amdocs reveals that 5G marketing is working, but consumers still lack knowledge of the broader services it could enable

There may be a scant amount of such devices available, and available at affordable prices at that – two major potential gating factors to uptake – but 35% of UK consumers are planning to buy a 5G smartphone in 2020, according to research from Amdocs.

The study of 1,000 UK consumers by the communications software and services provider revealed that less than one year on from the first 5G network deployment in the country, not only is there demand for 5G devices, but awareness of the next-generation standard in the UK is widespread.

Indeed, the survey revealed that regarding consumer understanding of 5G technology, just 5% of the UK public had not heard of 5G. That said, while just over half of the of UK consumers claimed to know what 5G is (55%), they conceded to having only a basic understanding of its benefits over 4G. Two-fifths of the UK public claimed to have an understanding of 5G’s technical benefits, such as gigabit-speed, low-latency connectivity.

The research also indicated that 5G marketing from communications service providers (CSPs) was clearly having an impact on UK consumers – only 30% of respondents said they had no intention of buying a 5G smartphone at all – but Amdocs suggested more could be done to help promote the wider benefits of the technology

But from a business and enterprise perspective, since the 5G networks have arrived procurement managers have wondered about the exact use cases for 5G phones, and the survey revealed a continued consumer orientation in 5G usage.

When asked which services they were interested in using a 5G handset for, internet browsing came first (selected by 81%), followed by streaming services (74%) and connected home devices (32%). Currently ranking low on the list were some of the newer and more innovative services that 5G promises to support, such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) (16%) and cloud gaming (27%). 

A 5G boost for remote working

Yet consumers were also beginning to recognise the benefits of 5G to their remote and mobile working experience. According to the findings, 35% believed the technology would lead to better video conference options, 32% anticipated better video training and development opportunities, and 6% believed it would create more opportunities to work remotely with faster internet

Assessing the findings of the UK survey, Amdocs noted that consumers’ first experience of 5G would be a faster, more responsive and consistent service for the types of things we do today.

“Internet access, streaming video, accessing and storing photos in the cloud – we will see service providers start to bundle and monetise these popular applications and content as part of 5G,” said Angela Logothetis, chief technology officer for open networks at Amdocs. “The more futuristic services – driverless cars, VR and AR technology – will take time – although we are seeing interest in early capabilities, like augmented reality street maps. There is definitely an opportunity for new killer 5G use cases to be developed to drive demand for 5G.”

As well as sampling 1,000 people in the UK, Amdocs surveyed the same number of people in the US, where it found that consumers expect 5G to affect their remote work experience by creating a seamless working environment that delivers a guaranteed quality of service, potentially provided by a dedicated network slice.

The combined findings showed that 35% believed the technology would lead to better video conferencing options and just under a third anticipated better video training and development opportunities, which would require real-time, immediate interactions. Three-fifths thought 5G would create more opportunities to work remotely with ubiquitous access.

This, concluded Amdocs, aligned with the belief that enterprises will be a driving force in the monetisation of 5G. Moreover, the company said that by 2028 nearly three-quarters of all teams were expected to have remote workers, and that as this continues to grow, 5G will play a critical role in supporting next-generation workforces by breaking down barriers between the physical and virtual workplaces.

Looking forward, Amdocs added that its experience in Asia and North America showed that 5G plans for minutes, text and data were priced competitively with 4G plans as service providers race to grow their 5G subscriber base. But most importantly, it regarded one of the crucial takeaways as being that there would be an impact to the comms industry beyond just speed.

Amdocs said that for CSPs, there will be an entire suite of functionality – ranging from low latency, security, support for the internet of things (IoT) and network slicing – that can be monetised individually and will enable the industry to drive innovation. Furthermore, it expected enterprises to benefit as from re-inventing their private networks to take advantage of the benefits of 5G.

The company concluded that determining which use cases will appeal to the widest audience would be critical and that, as of now, there’s no silver bullet.

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