The findings of a new study from mobile benchmarking company Global Wireless Solutions (opens in new tab) suggests that while many businesses in the UK are aware of 5G use cases, more effort is required from mobile network operators and other industry partners to educate the UK on the wide range of benefits that can be expected once the 5G network is fully deployed.
The study polled more than 200 organisations, ranging from 100 employees to over 5,000, across the UK. And in addition, GWS also surveyed over 2,000 UK adults via YouGov, aiming to gain an on-the-ground view of sentiments around mobile network performance amongst UK consumers.
Reassuringly, amongst UK businesses awareness of the future importance of 5G was high, despite 5G roll-out still being in a nascent phase. And just over half (56%) of the UK businesses polled said that 5G is already important to their company, while more than a quarter (27%) identified 5G being important to their business in the future (with 26% of businesses keen to see more 5G offerings from their operator).
“It’s certainly a positive for operators that many British firms already recognise the importance of 5G for their future business applications,” said Dr Paul Carter, CEO at GWS. “Most UK adults are gearing up for 5G mobile connectivity in the near future too, further demonstrating the business case for deployment from both a consumer and enterprise perspective.”
5G will be important in the future
However, just a fifth (20%) highlighted the provision of 5G applications and services as one of their top three mobile priorities over the next twelve months. Additionally, fewer than one in ten (9%) companies report complaints about a lack of access to 5G from those within their organisation, with more traditional mobility complaints centred on mobile network coverage issues (39%) and dropped voice calls (28%).
“There appears to be ongoing uncertainty amongst businesses and their employees as to what 5G really is and what it could mean for levelling up business capabilities, as well as confusion from the wider public as to whether 5G has actually arrived yet and in what capacity,” Carter explained. “These sentiments show there is a significant need for a stronger, clearer communications strategy around the huge potential of 5G – particularly at a time when we have become more reliant on network connectivity than ever before.”
As was the case with UK businesses, consumers were aware that 5G will be important in the future, with over three-quarters (76%) of UK adults saying that they do plan on getting a 5G phone. But many UK consumers appear unsure as to why they need 5G, with fewer than one in five (19%) agreeing that the speed of the new technology will change the way they use their phones. And a lack of enthusiasm for the new network seems apparent, with two-thirds (67%) saying they will wait for 5G to become the new normal by continuing to use 4G until they are automatically transferred by their operator.
“Now is a crucial time for all key stakeholders in the rollout of 5G – including authorities, operators and consumer-facing groups – to reach out to the public to quell common misunderstandings and take a more active role in educating the nation on the tangible, positive ways that 5G will impact people and the communities they engage in,” said Carter.
“We need to go beyond the fairly limited scope of existing messages around increases in speed to communicate the extent of what 5G could truly mean for both businesses and consumers alike. We need to be giving people much more regular, multi-layered messages around why 5G is not just a step-up in terms of a single factor like network speed, but a real step-change in how we will conduct our lives in terms of well-being, productivity, transportation, lifestyle, availability and costs of resources and services, and much more," Carter concluded.