Overpriced, overhyped and over here – 5G is no panacea to our problems

5G is no panacea
5G is no panacea. Image by megaflopp | bigstockphoto.com

A recent article in the South China Morning Post stated that “5G will change the way we live forever”. Such statements are typical of the hype and hope surrounding 5G.

After all, it’s been 10 years in the making. It’s cost billions to develop and implement. Millions more have been spent on inspirational advertising campaigns depicting an aspirational 5G lifestyle to encourage customers to upgrade.

5G is marketed as the panacea to all our problems. It’s transformative: reshaping the world we live in, providing a powerful platform for innovation and changing communications service providers into digital service providers. 5G has been sprinkled on every conversation and communication as though it’s the secret sauce of service provider success. And in a way it is. We’ve spent so much on it that we have no choice but to make a commercial success of it.

And herein lies the problem. Few customers have bought into the hype and even amongst those that have, disillusionment is already starting to creep in.

To be fair, expectations of 5G are so high that maybe disappointment is inevitable. But this is why it’s important to communicate effectively with customers in order to shape their expectations, support their adoption of 5G, and minimise their confusion and frustration. Part of this is making sure the commercial and service experience match the network experience. It’s no good setting 5G network expectations and delivering a 2G experience.

Then there’s the way 5G is coming to market. The slick ads might show an aspirational lifestyle, but the reality is piecemeal, paired down, with the same old customer experience making it just a slightly faster version of 4G. Even in markets such as China and South Korea, only people living in the very centre of certain big cities get ‘proper’ 5G. And despite being the first in the world to provide 5G to its customers, South Korea has had a mixed reaction to the service. According to Hong Jung-min of South Korea’s ruling Democratic Party and Member of the National Assembly’s Science, ICT, Broadcasting and Communications Committee, more than half a million people (562,656 to be exact) have switched back from 5G to 4G.

Yes, you read that right. 

Another fly in the ointment is that 5G has failed to grab consumers’ attention and imagination in the way that say an iPhone launch once did. They’re not getting out of bed before dawn to queue around the corner to sign up. All customers are asking one straightforward question: what’s in it for me? What’s in it for me beyond the bandwidth and the low latency?

The answer from South Korean customers is that for some 5G is a disappointment or not what they expected. They report that batteries are running down quickly, speeds are not what was promised, and 4G is actually fast enough for their current needs. Complaint levels have risen.

In fact, thanks to a less than stellar jump in the experience delivered, the entire 5G proposition is now at risk. Without urgent action, 5G will struggle to recover from being a huge disappointment. Having spent billions of euros on new networks, and a decade developing and implementing the technology, the mobile industry risks falling at the final hurdle – successful commercialisation of 5G.

Making a success of 5G requires DSPs to focus on how they communicate the technology to their customers, set realistic expectations, support customers who are adopting it and, even more immediately, navigate the complexities of buying it.

Poor communication and engagement undermines 5G investment by making it harder for customers to buy while raising the cost of supporting these customers and simultaneously raising the risk of reputational damage due to poor experience quality and unmet expectations. 

Improving customer communication and engagement offers DSPs a lifeline. The ability to reverse customers’ negative perceptions and build the kind of healthy, long-lasting customer relationships that will drive 5G profitability.

To find out more about how you can use effective communication and engagement to build loyalty, manage customer expectations and innovate experience, download a complimentary copy of Omnisperience’s new green paper ‘DCES – Building Value Through Effective Communication & Engagement’ from our website.

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