Most smartphone users already have high expectations for 5G and don’t need any convincing of its value, a new report from Ericsson concluded today. Never mind that network operators are still struggling to make the case for 5G, the majority of users surveyed also say they’d be willing to pay a 20% premium for 5G services, according to Ericsson’s latest ConsumerLab study.
That data point might come as a surprise to Verizon, which recently suspended a $10 premium it planned to charge users for access to its nascent 5G network. And it stands in contrast to an earlier report from PwC that concluded less than one-third of users would be willing to pay more for 5G.
Ericsson, like other telecom vendors, has staked its future on widening deployments of 5G equipment. While its survey appears thorough, spanning 22 countries with responses from 35,000 smartphone users aged 15 to 69, it’s important to note Ericsson’s bias and implicit goal of dispelling what it calls “four key myths around 5G”: no near-term consumer benefits; no appetite for premium pricing; no applications outside of smartphones; lackluster demand.
“Of the smartphone users surveyed globally, seven out of every 10 said they were excited about the possibility of 5G being available in their markets soon, while four in every 10 expect 5G to be available in their market within a year,” Ericsson wrote in the report. China, South Korea, the United States, Italy, and Saudi Arabia ranked in the top among countries with the highest consumer awareness of 5G.
Roughly 40% of those surveyed said 4G speeds are too slow and not meeting expectations, and Ericsson argues that this translates into an opportunity to bring “rapid relief to consumers suffering from capacity constraints in their networks.” As many as 60% of the respondents reported 4G connectivity issues in congested metropolitan areas.
The report also asked respondents to consider future services and applications that will be powered by 5G to gauge expectations, interest, and willingness to pay more for specific use cases. On average, 67% of all respondents said they were willing to pay for relevant 5G-powered apps and services. Moreover, users predict that most applications and services will be widely available within two to three years of a large-scale 5G launch.
The majority of U.S. respondents expect apps to reach mass market within a year of launch, and half of all early adopters here say they’d be willing to pay as much as $20 more per month if certain applications and services were bundled into a 5G plan. Top expectations for 5G include consistent high speeds, new applications and services, secure communications, discounted devices, and data sharing between devices and users.
Some of the most impactful apps or use cases for 5G will take longer to reach mass adoption. The automotive industry is regularly cited as a likely beneficiary of next-generation networks, and 40% of respondents believe 5G connectivity in the car will be as important as fuel efficiency and engine power in the next five years.
Jasmeet Singh Sethi, head of Ericsson’s ConsumerLab, said the research makes it clear that smartphones won’t be the silver bullet for 5G. “Consumers clearly state that they think smartphones are unlikely to be the sole solution for 5G,” he wrote in a prepared statement. While 50% of respondents said they believe smartphones will still exist, that same cohort also expects augmented reality glasses to be in widespread use by 2025.
Finally, while half of all respondents said they expect their mobile data usage to increase over 5G, roughly 20% could see usage jump tenfold to 200 gigabytes per month.