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Over 15m UK smartphone users are open to the 5G switch

Tyrone Stewart

Man mobile train stationAround 5.8m UK smartphone users would be happy to switch to a 5G network as soon as it becomes available, according to research from Deloitte. That figure would represent 12 per cent smartphone users in the UK.

According to a survey of 4,150 UK consumers aged between 16 and 75, the number of people willing to switch to 5G grows to 9.2m – or 19 per cent – of smartphone users once they begin hearing good things about it.

The research highlights frustrations around 4G networks, with just 21 per cent of respondents saying that they get a reasonable enough reception when using mobile data to use the web at their place of work or study. Meanwhile, only 13 per cent agree that the service is good enough for them to use throughout their commute.

“The addressable market demand for upgrading to 5G is plain to see, with at least 15 million people ready to switch as soon as it’s available and working properly,” said Paul Lee, head of research for technology, media and telecoms at Deloitte. “However, the adoption rate for 5G in the UK is likely to be slower than for 4G, largely as the UK may be amongst the first countries to see 5G launched across all operators. By contrast, the first 4G launch was in 2009, but it was not until 2013 that all UK operators had launched their networks.

“Data-hungry consumers are naturally craving the data speeds 5G will offer, which are likely to be between ten and one-hundred times faster than current connections.”

Deloitte expects there will be around 50,000 5G smartphones sold in the UK this year out of the 1m it predicts to be sold worldwide. The number of shipments in the UK is forecasted to grow to between 2m and 3m by 2020.

Consumer demand for faster and more reliable network connectivity links directly to the amount of content that people now consume on their mobile devices.

According to the research, 36 per cent of smartphone owners read the news on their device daily and 55 per cent weekly, making it the most people media content consumed via the small screen. At the same time 11 per cent of UK smartphone users now watch live TV on their smartphones at least once a day and six per cent stream films or TV series daily.

“Media has been a key driver for the adoption of the smartphone and the increasing demand for fast, stable network speeds,” said Lee. “With younger consumers’ showing even greater usage of their handsets, networks will need to react quickly to ensure that appetite for mobile data on the networks is not left unfulfilled.”