Global consumers slow to adopt 5G-enabled devices

Only 26% of people around the world own a 5G smartphone, YouGov survey finds

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: A journalist uses his mobile phone to take a picture of the 5G logo prior to the auction of spectrum for 5G services at the Bundesnetzagentur head quarters in Mainz, Germany, March 19, 2019.  REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo

The global adoption of fifth-generation wireless network connectivity, or 5G, has yet to catch on at scale, with only 26 per cent of consumers owning 5G-enabled smartphones, a survey by internet-based market research company YouGov shows.

About 52 per cent of the survey's respondents do not have a 5G-enabled smartphone and 18 per cent are unsure if their smartphone is 5G enabled, YouGov said in the report.

The survey polled more than 18,800 people in 17 countries, including the UAE, Australia, China, the US, Denmark, France, the UK, Indonesia, Mexico and Sweden.

“While 5G may be the future of connectivity, it has yet to catch on at scale … with massive variation in adoption and attitudes across global markets,” the report said.

“The coronavirus has slowed the 5G roll-out … new smartphone sales fell globally in 2020 … slower handset innovation has led to longer smartphone life cycles, with many people opting to keep their devices longer before upgrading."

A 5G network has an internet speed of up to 1.2 gigabits per second, which will gradually evolve to 10Gbps – more than 100 times faster than 4G.

December 2018 marked the dawn of the 5G era, when South Korean mobile operators launched the next-generation network to consumers. Less than three years later, 61 nations, or 30 per cent of the world's countries, now have access to commercial 5G services, YouGov said.

In May 2019, Etisalat – the UAE’s biggest telecoms operator – became the first service provider in the region to announce the availability of a 5G network, supporting smartphones for commercial use. It was soon followed by the UAE’s second-biggest operator du, Saudi Telecom Company and Bahrain's Batelco.

China, the world’s most populous nation, and the UAE, the Arab world’s second-largest economy, lead the way with 55 per cent and 48 per cent of people owning 5G-enabled devices, respectively. More than 30 per cent of respondents in Hong Kong and Indonesia currently own a 5G device.

However, Europe and North America lag behind in their take-up of 5G-enabled devices, with adoption rates below 25 per cent. At 26 per cent, US respondents are less than half as likely as Chinese respondents to have a 5G device.

“In wealthy and developed countries like the US, Britain and France, respondents remain less convinced 5G will change how people connect to the internet and less likely to pay more for 5G connections,” the report said.

Globally, 23 per cent of respondents do not know if 5G will change how people connect to the internet, YouGov found.

Asian countries were also more likely to have concerns about 5G's effects. About 53 per cent of Indians, 41 per cent of Chinese and 39 per cent of Indonesians said they were worried about 5G networks.

Younger consumers between the ages of 18 and 24, known as Generation Z, are the most likely to be early adopters of 5G. About 63 per cent of this group believe that 5G will change how people connect to the internet, YouGov said.

Updated: September 8th 2021, 6:56 AM
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