Research: 3000 consumers reveal what they really want from 5G and which use case they find most appealing

When you build it, will they want it?  The resounding answer is yes – consumers want 5G when they understand what it is and what it can do for them. 

As Communication Service Providers (CSPs) make their 5G plans, they need to know what factors will spur adoption, and which – if any – higher-value 5G services consumers will sign up for. To answer these questions, Nokia surveyed 3,000 people in the UK, US and South Korea and examined consumer understanding and demand for 5G services, and for six different use cases including autonomous vehicles, video surveillance and immersive technologies. 

5 things consumers told us about 5G

1. Consumers want 5G when they understand it

Demand for 5G enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) service increases significantly when consumers understand what it is and what it can do for them. We found that 80% of consumers who understand 5G want it, compared with just 23% of those who aren’t familiar with it.

2. Consumers are willing to pay more for 5G

Over half of survey respondents said they’d be willing to pay more for 5G. Focus group participants, however, said they’d look carefully at costs and at different providers’ offers. This suggests that cost will be a consideration for adoption but not a barrier to it, and consumers show a willingness to pay more if they understand the 5G difference.

3. Engaged users will switch provider to get 5G

50% of respondents said they’re likely to switch provider to get 5G if their own provider doesn’t offer it in the next 12 months. Those most likely to switch – remote workers, video streamers, home monitors – are highly-engaged users who will make substantial use of 5G-enhanced capabilities.

4. 5G FWA is the top ranked use case

Consumers were attracted to all of the higher-value 5G services we presented, but the one with the most appeal is Fixed Wireless Access (FWA), confirming that there is an opportunity for mobile operators to compete with broadband providers by offering FWA to homes and businesses. 76 percent of all respondents regard FWA as the most appealing use case overall, with 66 percent claiming they would subscribe to 5G FWA if it cost the same as their current broadband service and delivers the same or better performance

5. Opportunities abound for CSPs to expand beyond connectivity

While consumers found 5G FWA the most appealing, our survey revealed a strong appetite for 5G-enhanced services in many areas, from home monitoring and real-time drone video to cloud gaming, AR-based translation, precise navigation, and more. For example, two-thirds of consumers find 5G-enabled Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality services appealing and 56 percent are drawn to cloud gaming.

The research was conducted prior to the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has driven the world to work and learn from home, however, this has coincided with consumer demand for better quality video calls. Indeed, 90 percent rated high-quality, uninterrupted video streams a “very valuable” aspect of 5G. Additionally, a majority of consumers find 5G video use cases attractive, with 66 percent rating video capture and streaming applications appealing, and 69 percent rating video detection and alerting appealing. More than one-third of consumers found AR experiences for remote commerce appealing even before the COVID-19 crisis. The need and appeal has likely increased with social distancing.

CSPs should feel reassured that there is widespread consumer demand for the types of value-added services that 5G can enable or enhance.  The key will be to unlock that demand with more education around the 5G difference.

Read more about The value of 5G services: Consumer perceptions and the opportunity for CSPs

This article was created in collaboration with the sponsoring company and our sales and marketing team. The editorial team does not contribute.