5G is coming. Consumers are ready.

A PwC Consumer Intelligence Series flash poll

The advent of 5G has companies anxious with excitement. But how do consumers feel? Do they know what 5G is? Do they care? What about the deployment of small cells – does it change consumer perception?

During May 2018, PwC surveyed a nationally representative sample of 800 Americans between the ages of 18 and 64 who have access to the internet via an online survey conducted by a leading global research firm.

Topline overview

Six in ten consumers are familiar with the term 5G and the majority find the concept appealing – even if it requires adding “small cells” in their neighborhoods. Consumers feel that the additional equipment is a small price to pay to enjoy faster download speeds and more cost-efficient data plans. However, even with the promise of faster, more reliable service, most would not be willing to rush out and buy a new device right away.

Unaided awareness of 5G is high

On name only, 3 out of 5 internet users said they were familiar with the term “5G” (60%). Familiarity skews heavily towards males under the age of 35 (76% vs. 61% of older males and 52% of females). 5G familiarity is also higher in cities and suburbs than in rural areas (64% vs. 49%).


Are you familiar with the term “5G”?
  • Yes
  • Maybe
  • No

Male

Female

Q. Are you familiar with the term “5G”? Base: n=800
Source: PwC, 2018 5G Consumer Intelligence Series flash poll


The idea of 5G is very appealing to consumers

After 5G was defined, nearly three-quarters of respondents said it was "very appealing" (73%) – with younger males again being most enthusiastic (84%). There was also a noticeable decline in enthusiasm with age.


% who think 5G is "very appealing"

Q. 5G refers to the next generation of wireless network technology. Previous wireless network generations include 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G – you might recognize 3G and/or 4G/LTE, which most consumers currently use. 5G has the potential to completely change the way we interact with wireless devices, from smartphones to cars. 5G is expected to bring faster speeds, shorter delays/buffering, and increased connectivity. Based on the above definition, how appealing is 5G to you? (top box) Base: n=800
Source: PwC, 2018 5G Consumer Intelligence Series flash poll


Faster data speeds and more cost-effective data plans are top priority

When asked to rank seven benefits of 5G by interest, faster data speeds was ranked highest. However, a gender bias exists, with males more apt to rank faster speeds as #1 while females are more interested in cost-effectiveness.


% who ranked benefit within top 3

Q. Below are some of the benefits that 5G may provide. Please rank the benefits in the order in which they interest you, from most to least. Rank NET 1-3. Base: n=800
Source: PwC, 2018 5G Consumer Intelligence Series flash poll


Despite the benefits, 5G is not an immediate need

In a scenario where a new device would be required to access 5G, seven in ten said they would wait until they were eligible for an upgrade, rather than rushing to buy a new device as soon as it was available (30%).

Willingness to buy a new device right away was higher among young males <35 (43%), consumers who live in urban areas (41%), and households with an income >$100k (40%). Differences were also notable between race and ethnicity.


When 5G becomes available through your wireless provider,
which of the below scenarios describes what you’ll most likely do?
  • Wait until I was eligible for an upgrade
  • Buy a new device even if I was not yet eligible for an upgrade

White

African American

Hispanic

Q. When 5G becomes available through your wireless provider, which of these scenarios describes what you’ll most likely do? Base: n=800
Source: PwC, 2018 5G Consumer Intelligence Series flash poll


Aesthetically, small cells are only a minor deterrent

In the growing conversation around 5G, the potential for small cells to “muddy” beautiful communities around the country is a main focus. However, the majority of consumers (69%) feel the benefits of 5G outweigh however unattractive these small cells may be.


% who agree or disagree with the following statements
  • Agree
  • Disagree

Q. What if we told you that equipment, known as “small cells”, is required for 5G. Small cells will consist of pieces of equipment placed on streetlights or utility poles – for example, in your neighborhood or even in front of your house – often accompanied by containers the size of mini refrigerators on the ground or pole. Please tell us how much you agree or disagree with the following statements about 5G and “small cells”. Base: n=800
Source: PwC, 2018 5G Consumer Intelligence Series flash poll

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