|Denis Brunetti, president of Ericsson in Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos |
For consumers, there is an accelerated push for immersive technologies backed by 5G in multiple domains like learning and healthcare, virtual tourism, arts, and entertainment. In line with that, 5G is poised to reach 2.8 billion subscriptions globally by the end of 2025, accounting for about 30 per cent of total mobile subscriptions, according to the latest Ericsson Mobility Report from June.
With ultra-reliability, lower latency, faster data transmission rates, and unique network slicing capabilities, 5G will serve consumers and provide more immersive experiences and superior connectivity.
Today, consumers demand perfect network performance and are even willing to switch providers if their own provider does not roll out 5G. As per an Ericsson report, more than half in China, one-third in South Korea, and one in four in the US and Australia will change either immediately or within six months should this be the case. And, that is just in the early stages of the 5G era, before the true capabilities of the new technology have started to show extensively.
The increase in online activity during the pandemic has also brought the need for 5G to the fore. Six in 10 smartphone users have a clear positive attitude towards the role that 5G could have played during the crisis, and about half of them strongly agree that 5G could have offered better network capacity and higher speeds compared to 4G.
Consumers share a similar level of agreement related to 5G’s role from a medical perspective citing medical specialists could have used 5G to control medical equipment via remote centres or 5G-enabled robots could have carried out tests, reducing the time medical staff need to spend in infectious spaces. In addition, six in 10 consumers believe automated delivery drones or fleets of driverless cars might replace delivery people as demand for contact-free interactions increases.
There is now a push from consumers for traditionally physical experiences to go virtual. With the rise of a virtual experience economy, the Ericsson report predicts that six in 10 respondents believe VR will allow them to have the experiences they want, even in isolation. An Ericsson ConsumerLab Merged Reality Report states that seven out of 10 early adopters expect VR and AR to change everyday life fundamentally in media, education, business, social interaction, travel, and retail.
In line with that, half the world’s smartphone users predict that by 2025 they will all be wearing 5G powered lightweight, fashionable AR glasses. Along with faster download speeds, 5G’s ultra-low latency and high reliability is going to power the next generation of consumer experiences such as gaming.
There has also been an accelerating interest in embracing what 5G offers the arts and entertainment community. Ericsson has been working with the National Gallery in London to explore how the physical and virtual worlds of art lead to engagement and access. In 2019, Ericsson and Airtel presented India’s first ever 5G-powered music performance at the India Mobile Congress underlining the 5G enabled immersive experiences.
The initial 5G experiences of consumers in South Korea, Australia, and the UK have revolved around better speeds and capacity, especially in densely populated areas like shopping malls, department stores, universities, trains, and highways. For example, in South Korea, owing to the presence of tech-savvy consumers, the focus has been on creating an adequate capacity to cater to the growing amounts of data generated via gaming, streaming, immersive infotainment, and e-mobility, among others. The country was among the first globally to benefit from the enhanced mobile broadband-enabled by 5G, through seamless and ultra-low latency user experiences.
Undoubtedly, there is a high interest for 5G for both consumers. The 5G technology’s offerings will develop over time to evolve into an entire ecosystem of instant downloads, immersive experiences, mass deployment of gaming devices, contactless drone deliveries, and unmanned shops with robotic concierges.
As per the Ericsson ConsumerLab Study, half of the consumers are willing to pay a price premium of around 20 per cent, when moving from a 4G to a 5G subscription if more value is provided in the package. Considering the high demand, 5G represents a great potential for service providers to create and capture new value in the consumer business.
The monetisation opportunity for service providers to create entire 5G ecosystem of integrated services remains across entertainment, gaming, mixed reality (VR, AR), education, and online payments. It is also about enabling completely new services that could not be delivered on a 4G networks.
Many operators launching 5G are starting to take the opportunity to offer value-added services to consumers, beyond data, and speed. In early 5G markets, we see new collaborations emerge, between operators and a system of device manufacturers, content providers, event owners, and gaming companies. Together, they have the potential to create consumer services like never seen before.
The pandemic has heightened the demand for 5G, as consumers realise the need for faster connectivity. Not only does 5G promise superior and more immersive experiences to the consumers, it provides the opportunity to be resilient to future crises. With deployment of 5G technology, consumers stand to gain immensely from an advanced and truly immersive 5G-powered world.