Survey says consumers willing to pay 20% more for 5G. Really?

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Ericsson, bless them, went to the trouble of interviewing 35,000 consumers about the perceived value of 5G. It turns out (which is code for ‘don’t question these results’) that consumers will pay 20% extra for 5G.

For a start 5G, real 5G, for consumers is still a long way away (exceptions apply). Telcos need to make some of the money back from enterprise and Government solutions before they even think about consumers.

For a second, consumers would pay the 20% premium for any wireless network that actually works. Most cities have atrocious connectivity, rural areas (exceptions apply) even worse. Of course people will pay for guaranteed connectivity if they have come to rely on it and cannot get it.

5G is (apparently) not just about speed anyway. It is about really low latency, enabling VR, AR and autonomous cars (laughter off).

Of course, 5G as a local high speed, low latency platform will enable radical, disruptive (damaging?) changes in many industries. It will enable dark, cold factories to operate. It will allow innovation in almost any industry you care to mention. It will be the platform for the IoT, or large parts of it.

And each industry will need to look at what it offers them and work with the telcos to support that innovation.

But to say that 20% of consumers will pay more for something that is not here yet and you can only describe as ‘faster’ is ridiculous. It is the same as asking a colleague whether their black and white chunky computer is OK. And they say ‘yes’ because they don’t know any different. Then you take them down the corridor and show them the full colour, lightning fast laptop. Then, when they go back to their computer, they say ‘I can’t work with this, I need a new computer’. ‘And no, why should I pay for it’?

And not to put too fine a point on it, we are assuming in all the hype that 5G will be with us everywhere, all at once and be super reliable.

A small business near two major trunk roads has been without internet or telephone for five (working) days now. The trouble ticket is now so inflated that, in a company of 50,000 employees, there is someone called Laura looking after the whole sorry affair.

And you think an extra G is going to make telcos suddenly become able to provide a reliable network?

If this article is ever published, 2G would be nice, the advice would be to pull the other one, it’s got bells on.


  1. If people had to pay 20% more for LTE than for 3G, then they probably would. They don’t have to pay 20% more for LTE because telecoms markets around the world are competitive. In many countries the first LTE operator to launch charged a premium (albeit less than 20%) but this soon disappeared when a second and a third (and in some cases a fourth and a fifth) operator launched. The same is likely to happen with 5G although in the case of 5G it will be harder to sustain a premium because of a) the lack of handsets b) poor battery life and c) the fact that coverage is likely to be poor relative to LTE versus 3G at launch.

  2. It’s simple. 5G is an odd ‘G’ and it is written that the odd ‘Gs’ (like 3G) are the ones that get rolled out with technology of dubious quality and uncertain purpose. We then spend ten years figuring out what this mystery G might be for and who’s going to use it, then roll out the even numbered G which does the same thing much better and is focused on what it turned out people actually wanted it for. Like 4G, which gave us actual usable mobile internet. So my advice to you, Alex, is to save your money for 6G.

    • Thank you – good advice. Actually we are already working on the inaugural 6G World Congress. Thinking somewhere quiet but nice in, say, February. Spain somewhere, maybe…

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