The buzz around 5G grows louder. Meanwhile, more consumers are becoming aware of what it can do for them. Most are excited about the prospect of faster, more reliable mobile connectivity. But are they willing to pay for it? We asked 800 Americans nationwide about their attitudes toward 5G.* Here’s what we found.
*Participants were aged between 18 and 64 and all had access to the internet.
Consumers throughout the country are well aware of 5G. They are excited about its potential to improve their access to the internet, especially via mobile devices. They are less enthused about benefits they don’t perceive as being directly relevant to their daily lives—such as virtual and augmented reality, drone delivery and hologram video calling. Men under 40 are more willing to pay an additional fee for 5G service while women over 30 are less willing. Overall, consumers value the potential of 5G to improve their lives, and they are willing to pay an average of $15 over and above their existing monthly telephone plans to have access to it.
Awareness of 5G among rural consumers has jumped 27 points over the past 18 months to reach 76%. Their awareness levels are now on par with urban (79%) and suburban (78%) consumers. Awareness is highest with men aged 30 to 39 at 89%. Meanwhile, women 60-64 have the lowest awareness at 64%. Almost 30% of consumers believe 5G is already available to them with 40% don’t know when it will be available.
Novel benefits such as virtual or augmented reality are far less appealing to consumers than more reliable service, faster downloads and lower costs. They like what they already have, and improvements are always welcome. In fact, they value these incremental gains enough to pay more for monthly service.
Consumers told us the most exciting capability of 5G is enhanced mobile internet service, with faster access ranking first, followed by extra high-speed connections in concentrated areas and virtual shopping experiences. They are less enthused about innovations they perceive as less relevant to their daily lives—such as drone delivery and hologram video calling. Meanwhile urban consumers, who typically represent an early business case, did express more interest in these innovations.
Overall, 50% of consumers are willing to pay more for 5G service. Of those willing to pay more, the average cost cited is $15 more per month, in addition to the cost of existing telephone service plans. Men under the age of 40 are most willing to pay more for 5G service, while women over the age of 30 are the least willing.
Consumers are intrigued by the potential of 5G. They are interested in the incremental improvements the technology offers, especially the and reliability of their mobile service. Some are excited to take advantage of emerging tech innovations such as VR apps, but these are in the minority. The findings illustrate that consumers don’t understand the value propositions beyond mobile broadband.
The real potential of 5G at this stage of development lies with enterprise customers who are exploring ways to create enhanced digital customer experiences within contained spaces, such as theme parks, resorts, retail spaces or even restaurants. With VR, AR and high-definition screens, for example, 5G can take entertainment to the next level. Employees can use AR glasses that store information on each guest and provide personalized greetings. Once consumers have experienced these benefits of 5G for themselves, they are much more likely to recognize the value it offers in their daily lives.
US Technology, Media and Telecommunications Corporate Strategy Leader, PwC's Strategy&, PwC US