Consumer 5G is here (or coming soon) and Asia is leading the way

consumer 5G
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Consumer 5G is here, or at least coming soon, in most regions of the world. YouGov, a global research group, has published its International Telco Report 2021, and has been asking people their thoughts on 5G. A lot of people, it turns out – over 18,000 in 17 countries across the globe.

The leader in consumer 5G, by a wide margin, is China, with over half of their subscriber base having a 5G enabled device. UAE is a strong second, followed by Hong Kong and Indonesia. Chinese telcos will build a million new base stations in the next year.

Not surprisingly those people who use VR headsets are the most enthusiastic group, with 63% of respondents agreeing that ‘5G will change how people connect to the internet’. Half of this group are willing to pay more for a 5G tariff.

This report into consumer 5G trends and opinion highlighted the fact that telcos could increase the number of 5G subscribers through better communication of the benefits. Globally, a quarter of respondents do not know if 5G will change the way people access the internet and a third of US respondents do not know if they are paying for 5G.

Depressingly, a significant number of people answered ‘I need a new phone’ as the reason to get a 5G device.

The question of whether people will pay a 5G tariff has worried the industry since the first launches, three years ago.

The answer is mixed and, surprisingly, 76% of respondents in emerging markets said they would pay a 5G tariff, compared to 41% in developed nations. This, of course, may be because of the differences in existing infrastructure in different countries but perhaps points to a real thirst for proper connectivity across emerging economies. India and Indonesia have enormous pent up demand – two countries that have yet to launch 5G services.

The report into consumer 5G supports what many would have guessed. Consumer 5G take up is patchy, opinions differ about whether it will change the way we access the internet, and whether people are prepared to pay more for a 5G enabled device.

Emerging markets seem to be set for the most immediate take up, while developed markets will need to work hard to present the benefits of 5G over other access technologies and, of course, it is the people who are most absorbed by the VR, immersive experience, who are willing to pay extra for that experience.

One thing is for sure, when it comes to consumer 5G, it will take a lot to shift China from the ‘top spot’ and, as Eric Schmidt says, ‘the next generation of Googles and Facebooks will not come from Silicon Valley but from China’ and there seems to be little we can do to stop that.

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