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Attitudes towards 5G

Digital Consumer Trends 2020

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  • Only 5% of respondents are using 5G at the time of the survey.
  • 64% say they do not yet know enough about 5G and the benefits it brings
  • Over 50% agree that 5G brings greater connectivity
  • 20% believe there are health risks associated with 5G

Are we willing to switch to 5G yet?

Ireland compares favourably in terms of 5G rollout. The fact that three operators now have active 5G networks with coverage ranging from 30% - 50% of the Irish population by early 2021 is a positive for 5G development in Ireland. 5G rollout has been slow, most likely as a result of COVID-19. Other markets are likely to see strong demand, particularly in Asia, with China leading due to its strong investment in 5G infrastructure. In some of these markets, 5G is perceived to be of critical strategic interest, and major investment has been encouraged.

Currently only 5% of respondents are using 5G and 24% would switch as soon as it’s available. This compares favourably with the UK, where only 2% of respondents claim to currently use 5G.

Nearly half of all 5G users are in the Dublin area and in the under 35 age category, which is somewhat unsurprising. 31% of 5G users are on the Vodafone network.

Figure 1. 5G: Enthusiasm for 5G may be softening. The % of respondents who would switch to a 5G network if they “start hearing good things about it” declined by 12% within a year.

Figure 2. In Ireland, younger age groups, who tend to be the heaviest users, are more willing to actively switch to 5G.

Figure 3. Of those using 5G; 48% are in Dublin, 31% are on the Vodafone network, 53% are under 35.

Consumer behaviours?

With 24% of respondents wanting to switch as soon as it’s available and over 50% of respondents believe 5G brings better connectivity, demand is already there. However our research shows that 64% of respondents feel they do not yet know enough about 5G and most likely the benefits it brings. Over a quarter of respondents ‘strongly agree’ with this statement and a further 38% ‘tend to agree’. 10% ‘tend to disagree’, with a further 5% who ‘strongly disagree’ and 2% don’t know. Among older age groups, the feeling of not knowing enough about 5G is also elevated: 74% among 55-64 year olds and 71% among 65–75 year olds.

A fifth believe that there are health risks associated with 5G, with a higher portion in the under 35 year old age category (27% in the 18-24 year old category and 28% in the 25-34 year old category), this is far higher than the UK where only 15% of the 18-24 year olds and 18% of the 25-34 year olds believe that here are health risks associated with 5G, yet this age group are the biggest users of 5G. This belief among older age groups is far lower at 16% among 55-64 year olds and 7% among 65-75 year olds. But a large proportion of these age groups answered ‘don’t know’ (18% and 19% respectively).

While it is concerning that 20% believe (mistakenly) that there are health risks associated with 5G, this is lower than in other European countries surveyed. Notably, over a third of respondents in Austria and Belgium believe that there are health risks associated with 5G.

Figure 4. Over half of respondents think they’ll have better mobile connectivity if they move to 5G.

Figure 5. 60% of Apple phone owners believe 5G will provide better mobile connectivity compared to 56% for Android phone owners.

Figure 6. 5G understanding levels: 64% of respondents agree with the statement: “I do not know enough about 5G”

Figure 7. Ignorance about 5G: 20% agree with: “I believe that there are health risks associated with 5G”; 40% disagree; 25% are on the fence.

Figure 8. A greater proportion of young respondents believe that there are health risks associated with 5G.

Figure 9. Ignorance about 5G: Austria and Belgium are the outliers with a third of respondents believing there are health risks associated with 5G.

5G is not all about consumers

As part of Deloitte’s TMT Predictions 2020 it was predicted that more than 100 companies worldwide will begin testing private 5G deployments by the end of 2020, collectively investing a few hundred million dollars in labour and equipment. For many of the world’s largest businesses, private 5G will likely become the preferred choice, especially for industrial environments such as manufacturing plants, logistics centres and ports.

Has COVID impacted this prediction? Our original prediction was low, the number of companies testing private 5G deployments is on pace to be well over 1,000 at the end of the year. According to Deloitte’s tracking of tests, the number of companies testing private 5G networks was far ahead of our forecast already in Q1, and tests don’t cost much.

6G – what’s next

China on the 8 November 2020 was reported to have launched the world’s first 6G satellite into orbit.

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