Ericsson: 5G already changing smartphone usage behaviour

Largest 5G consumer study to date finds seven in 10 5G users expect more innovative services and apps, while 20% have decreased usage of Wi-Fi on their phones at home and other locations after upgrading

Research from Ericsson has highlighted the impact that 5G is already having on smartphone users worldwide and what they expect the technology to deliver in the future.

The report, Five ways to a better 5G, is the result of what the company says is the largest global 5G consumer study to date. It covers consumer sentiment and perception in 26 markets, including the US, China, South Korea and the UK, and the report’s methodology is said to represent 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, uncovering the status of commercialisation of the key use cases and examining what services consumers value most and are willing to pay for.

The study observes 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. One of these – and a detail that has been reported by other sources showing how remote workers have increasingly depended on their phones for connectivity – is that as many as one-fifth of 5G users are already reducing Wi-Fi use on their phones indoors because of the benefits of 5G mobile connectivity.

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 twice as important as speed or battery life in delivering satisfactory 5G experiences.

However, although 5G users were satisfied with the speed that next-generation networks can deliver,  about 70% were dissatisfied with the availability of 5G’s new services and new apps. In what will be good news for service providers, consumers said they were willing to pay 20-30% more for 5G plans bundled with digital service use cases.

As well as reducing Wi-Fi use, early-adopter 5G users were found to be spending an average of two hours more on cloud gaming and one hour more on augmented reality apps per week compared with 4G users.

Going forward, Ericsson outlined five ways for communications service providers to meet consumer expectations, both in the immediate and longer term. These included: 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; and accelerating availability of existing and new use cases through ecosystem partnerships.

Ericsson said the report’s findings show that service providers need to be more aware of what consumers want to accomplish with 5G and be more innovative in offering new experiences to consumers.

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

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