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Guest Blog: 3 ways to get the public more interested in 5G

Mobile UK

4 min read Partner content

By Lyndsey Burton, MD of Choose.

5G has been around in the UK for over two and a half years now with all four network operators beginning their rollouts in 2019. Since then, coverage has been improving rapidly and independent testing shows speeds are picking up pace too.  

However, customers are yet to embrace 5G technology at the same rate that they initially did with 4G. YouGov’s International Telco Report 2021 found that on the second anniversary of 5G deployment one operator has one million customers as opposed to 5.7 million at the same time for 4G.

Part of this comes from lack of knowledge about the technology. YouGov’s research highlighted that 21% of UK respondents had not heard anything about 5G, suggesting there’s still a big information gap. Perhaps that isn’t completely surprising given that normal life has been so disrupted by Covid-19, but if customers are going to reap the benefits of 5G, more needs to be done to get them interested in the technology. So, how can mobile operators help?

First, mobile networks should continue working with Mobile UK on the crucial #5GCheckTheFacts campaign. Unfounded claims from conspiracy theorists and people deliberately spreading misinformation about the safety of 5G technology have a habit of overshadowing the benefits, particularly when operators are looking to install new masts amid community opposition.

28% of UK respondents in YouGov’s research cited the news as their top information source on 5G, yet local newspapers often cover disputes around masts and it’s likely this coverage (and the comment sections it spawns) are adding to ambivalence about 5G. Using the #5GCheckTheFacts campaign to continue proactively challenging disinformation wherever it pops up can help dispel some of those pervasive myths about 5G technology.  

Second, mobile network operators have been rightly focused on rolling out 5G networks across the country but, partly thanks to the Covid-19 crisis, consumer understanding about the benefits and use cases of 5G has been slower to follow. This has led to a knowledge gap with people yet to fully realise the benefits of this transformative technology.  

We see many demonstrations of how 5G can work on a national and global level but many customers just want to know how it’s going to make their everyday lives better. 31% of YouGov respondents who were unlikely to upgrade to 5G within 12 months said they were not interested in 5G technology while only 5% of those who were intending to upgrade were excited about the benefits of 5G. It’s clear there’s another information gap that needs to be bridged if operators are going to attract more customers to their 5G networks.  

Our third and final suggestion is linked to this perceived lack of enthusiasm: customers need to see value within 5G services.  

Ericsson’s Consumer and Marketing Insight report published in May 2021 suggested that even early adopters are frustrated by the lack of bundles and 5G digital services on offer. Globally, 70% of early 5G customers expressed dissatisfaction with the availability of innovative services connected with 5G and it’s true there’s little to distinguish 5G mobile tariffs from 4G plans in the UK.  

Here, again, we’re faced with a knowledge gap, however. The revolutionary power of 5G is primarily found in the way it affects things all around us from its impact on the way businesses work through to the connectivity of billions of smart products as part of the internet of things (IoT). The new 5G networks also help to build capacity so more customers, both at an individual level and an enterprise level, can do more of the things they need to online - and do them more quickly. 

Such benefits are often lost in the gap between mobile operators and their customers, and it’s inherently difficult to get everyday users excited about the value 5G can bring to society unless we can communicate how that value is going to affect them now and in the future.  

Ultimately, mobile operators have dealt admirably with the uncertainties of recent years, navigating through the coronavirus crisis alongside the UK Government’s directive that no new Huawei kit can be used in the UK 5G network. Despite all the challenges, 5G coverage continues to expand across the country and it’s now time to encourage customers to take that leap too and enjoy the benefits.  

This blog has been written by Lyndsey Burton, MD of Choose.

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