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US 5G users willing to pay premium for enhanced experience

Research from leading comms tech provider finds greatest connectivity issues faced by US consumers are at airports, stadiums and concert venues, and over a quarter of US 5G users have switched providers since the launch

In what it said was its most extensive global consumer study on 5G to date, Ericsson Consumerlab has released research showing the factors influencing consumer satisfaction on 5G services are changing, with users actively seeking – and ready to pay a premium for – elevated and differentiated network performance over generic, best-effort 5G performance. 

The 5G value: Turning performance into loyalty report studied usage spanning 37,000 consumers across 28 markets, reflecting the views of an estimated 1.5 billion consumers globally, including about 650 million 5G customers.

The study fundamentally highlighted the latest trends in mobile connectivity demand and satisfaction, as well as the business case potential for 5G as a growing number of subscribers around the world express increased satisfaction with 5G. However, it also revealed that unsatisfactory 5G connectivity experiences at key locations such as stadiums, entertainment arenas and airports can make customers up to three times more likely to switch communications service providers.

The key finding was that one-in-five 5G smartphone users seeking differentiated 5G service experiences, such as quality of service, for demanding applications are willing to pay communications service providers (CSPs) a premium of up to 11% to enjoy the value-added connectivity.

The factors influencing consumer satisfaction were themselves seen as changing, namely moving from 5G geographical coverage considerations to more application experience-based metrics such as video streaming quality, mobile gaming and video calling experience, as well as 5G speed consistency. This was found to be the case especially among early 5G adopters. In addition, about 37% of 5G consumers polled believe increased data allowances in their 5G plans would justify premium rate charges from CSPs.

The study found that on average, 5G users reported a 47% increase in time spent on enhanced video formats over the past two years. The number of daily augmented reality (AR) application users has doubled since the end of 2020. Emerging formats were increasingly driving usage and 5G data consumption as service providers bundle rich media content into 5G plans.

The report also addressed how 5G user engagement, and consequently mobile data consumption, was being driven by the bundling of 5G-rich enhanced video – such as 4K, 360-degree experiences, multi-view videos and AR applications – on 5G plans. New 5G users still valued 5G outdoor coverage and speed, and in markets where 5G population coverage exceeded 80%, long-time users were prioritising video quality and upload speeds for the apps they use, reflecting evolving expectations. There was also a reported surge in use of 5G for HD video streaming (41%) and AR applications (316%) in the US.

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5G performance at key locations were influencing consumer loyalty. About 17% of consumers across 28 markets had switched service providers since the launch of 5G, driven primarily by issues with 5G network performance. A significant influence was 5G experience in critical locations, such as arenas and airports, and 27% of smartphone users expected differentiated 5G connectivity.

“Interestingly, about one-in-five 5G smartphone users polled expressed a clear preference for differentiated quality of service connectivity,” said Jasmeet Singh Sethi, head of Ericsson ConsumerLab. “Rather than settling for generic, best-effort 5G performance, these users are actively seeking elevated and consistent network performance, especially tailored for demanding applications and specific key locations.”

Sethi said another clear 5G customer loyalty indicator related to consumers’ experiences of the connectivity at busy locations and major event venues. “This is where a lot of 5G consumers clearly expect 5G to be able to give them a value-add experience – for example, to enhance a night out at a major entertainment venue, or when traveling through an airport,” he added.

“If their experience in such locations is poor, they are three times more likely to switch to a provider who can provide that optimum 5G experience.”

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