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Consumers see benefits of 5G Fixed Wireless Access

5G Innovation

Spotlight on 5G |

Nokia commissioned a study prior to the current global coronavirus pandemic that examined consumer understanding, awareness and desire for different 5G services. The world has of course changed dramatically in the space of a few short weeks but the insight from this research is still valid and applicable for when things start to return to normal.

The quantitative market research surveyed 3,000 people in the UK, US and South Korea, across five different use cases: video monitoring, fixed wireless access, immersive experiences, smart venues, and connected vehicles.

Broadly, it highlighted an opportunity for Communications Service Providers (CSPs) to ramp up 5G awareness campaigns that help consumers better understand its capabilities and benefits. Although awareness of 5G with the general public remained quite low with just half of consumers claiming any level of familiarity, the good news is that appeal follows education, 80% of those very familiar with 5G found it appealing versus 23% of those who aren’t familiar.

Cost, of course, remains a key consideration for consumers but is not necessarily a barrier to entry with the majority of smartphone owners saying they’d be willing to pay more for 5G services. Additionally, over 50% said they are likely to switch providers if their current provider didn’t offer them 5G in the next 12 months.

The availability and cost of 5G capable smartphones is currently a potential barrier to mass consumer adoption but the introduction of more models from multiple brands and at different price points should encourage greater adoption.

Operator opportunity with Fixed Wireless Access

Across all markets, 76% of people surveyed worldwide (US 82%; UK 74%; South Korea 71%) rated Fixed Wireless Access service as the most appealing use case for 5G. 5G FWA can be an alternative to a wired home internet service so instead of getting internet access into your home through cable, DSL, fiber optic or satellite, it would come into your home wirelessly using an easy to install 5G wireless internet modem.

While most respondents were satisfied with the performance of their current broadband believing it to be reliable and fast enough, they are relatively less satisfied with service costs and choice of providers. Forty-one percent of consumers indicated they have a single broadband provider option and thus value the prospect of more provider choice.

Two-thirds, or 66%, said they would be willing to subscribe to 5G FWA if it cost the same as their current wired broadband service. This can be an opportunity for mobile operators to compete with low cost bundles that can be offered to consumers as a new way of receiving broadband at home. Of course, operators must prove to consumers that 5G will perform just as well if not better than the status quo.

CSPs can offer free or discounted trial periods that allow consumers to experience service quality first-hand, which also showcases the ability for easy, do-it-yourself installation given 83% of consumers find it a valuable aspect of FWA. It’s worth noting that our companion research into 5G use cases for enterprise also showed that 5G FWA is the most appealing use case for small and medium businesses.

FWA can be an attractive use case for 5G but operators must make an informed decision about how to invest in FWA, including how much to invest and where. Research from Technology Business Research Inc. (TBR) recommends deployment in relatively high GDP per capita populations with limited access to high-speed internet services, as well as underserved areas which can benefit from 4G FWA until 5G is deployed.

Nokia’s research into 5G use cases also showed that there are opportunities for CSPs to go beyond connectivity services to higher-value 5G services.  The survey revealed a strong appetite for 5G-enhanced services in many areas including 5G video.

Even before COVID-19 turned video into a bedrock of personal and business interactions, 69% of consumers found 5G video monitoring and alerts appealing, and expect to see a difference in video quality between 4G and 5G.

Social and physical distancing habits may also accelerate demand for 5G-enabled immersive experiences such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and cloud gaming. While a majority of consumers found immersive experiences appealing, there remains a gap in familiarity with how these technologies can be used and how 5G makes it better.

Across the board, consumers look to their mobile carriers as their preferred provider. CSPs can drive demand by demonstrating that 5G offers much more than “faster 4G,” and investing in targeted campaigns to help a wider consumer population understand how 5G can enrich many areas of their life.

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Patty is the Director of Market Insights at Nokia, with 20 years of experience crafting compelling messages and stories within the telecom industry. As a marketing and communications expert, she has a diverse background developing marketing programs and strategies in roles spanning product marketing and management, analyst relations, business development, and most recently market insights. Patty also serves as Editor-in-Chief of Futurithmic, a digital publication focused on exploring the implications of emerging technologies. She is an alumni of Alcatel-Lucent Top 10 Women in Leadership Program – Americas, and runs presentation skills workshop for the company’s Women’s Forum.