Initial 5G user experience varies from good to pretty awful

5G user experience
Image credit | Wladimir.B/

A report by Opensignal on initial 5G user experience makes for interesting reading but also shows up how much more there is to do to make 5G work. The report concentrates on speed and latency and other technical issues and is, for old billing hands, slightly frustrating.

If you live in Saudi Arabia you will be very happy with your 5G speed, at 414 Mbps. If you live in the US you will hardly notice the difference between your 5G speed and your 4G (and there may – or may not – be a reason for this). The Netherlands, UK and Germany are all at the bottom of the scale, with Taiwan, Australia and South Korea following the example of Saudi Arabia with some blistering speeds. It is interesting that Saudi Arabia clocked some of the slowest 4G speeds and so had the most incentive to make the initial 5G user experience as good as possible.

All of this is very interesting but the focus must now surely change.

It must be time to understand what customers are using 5G for, what problems it solves and what cool new things it allows us to do.

Generally speaking, the reports and articles out there seem to suggest that people are using it as ‘WiFi Anywhere’ – and why not, you might say.

What we want to see and hear about is how smart cities can become using 5G, how smart vehicles can become, how incredible is the 5G user experience when it comes to multi-player video games, AR, VR and any other R.

If 5G, 6G and whatever comes after those is just about access the telecoms industry will have done what we all knew it would do but hoped that it would not. There is such an opportunity out there to leverage the asset called trust. Instead of simply being an access player, telecoms companies should already be a trusted digital guide, looking after their customers’ affairs, their digital money, security, identity, services and much more, whatever the speed.

Let us hope that there is still time for them to embrace a real 5G user experience that is more than just about speed. Otherwise, people who have been trying to sell the idea of billing for content and selling value might just start pulling their hair out.

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