5G already changing smartphone use in the UAE: report

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A new report by Ericsson ConsumerLab highlights the impact that 5G is already having on smartphone users worldwide including the UAE and what they expect the technology to deliver in the future. Indoor coverage is one of the focus areas to emerge from consumer research, with one-in-five 5G users already reducing Wi-Fi use on their phones indoors because of the benefits of 5G mobile connectivity.

The report – Five Ways to a Better 5G – is the result of the largest global 5G consumer study to date. Covering consumer sentiment and perception in 26 markets – including the  UAE – the Ericsson ConsumerLab study methodology is representative of 1.3 billion smartphone users globally, including 220 million 5G subscribers.

The report explores key trends behind the adoption, use, and perception of consumers with and towards 5G. In the UAE, the report found that there has been a 6 percent increase from March 2019 to December 2020 in the intention to upgrade to 5G. Additionally, 24 percent of respondents in the UAE have a 5G phone but on a 4G network thereby highlighting broader consumer readiness for the technology.

Another key report finding reveals early adopters in the UAE are satisfied with the speed and 81 percent want more innovative apps and services.

The report also highlights how 5G is already beginning to trigger new user behaviors. In addition to reducing Wi-Fi use, early adopter 5G users also spend an average of two hours more on cloud gaming and one hour more on augmented reality (AR) apps per week compared to 4G users. 5G users spend 3 hours more per week watching live video streams and 1.5 hours more on AR apps compared to 4G users. Additionally, 20 percent of users in the UAE have decreased their Wi-Fi usage after upgrading.

Covid-19 lockdowns and movement restrictions mean that the vast majority of 5G early adopters’ regular experiences with the technology have been indoors. As a result, early adopters indicate that indoor coverage is two times more important than speed or battery life in delivering satisfactory 5G experiences.

The report also outlines five ways for communications service providers (CSPs) to meet consumer expectations both in the immediate and longer terms, including:

  • addressing the knowledge gap by educating and better marketing the value of 5G to consumers. 24 percent of smartphone users in the UAE have a 5G phone but are still on a 4G plan.
  • ensuring consistent quality of indoor and outdoor 5G coverage
  • adapting to network requirements for new 5G services
  • focusing on consumer intent to envision new 5G use cases
  • accelerating the availability of existing and new use cases through ecosystem partnerships

Jasmeet Singh Sethi, Head of ConsumerLab, Ericsson Research, says: “So far, analyses of 5G network experiences have mostly focused on 5G speeds and availability based on independent network measurements. But it is equally important to understand how 5G early adopters perceive that experience. With Ericsson ConsumerLab’s five recommendations and insights, CSPs can encourage 5G adoption and meet consumer expectations.”

Read the Ericsson ConsumerLab: Five Ways to a Better 5G report here.

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