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Driving 5G adoption - building relationships and trust with early adopters

5G will enable unlimited opportunities for new use cases, devices and applications. It will provide new and faster services for consumers and business opportunities for companies. In order to succeed, trust amongst early adopters is crucial for 5G to deliver on its promises.

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5G will first arrive to the US and Chinese markets but most countries will get access by 2020. According to Ericsson Mobility Report, by 2023 it is forecasted that about 19% of all data traffic will be over 5G. Our research at Ericsson Consumer & IndustryLab, suggests that as many as 14% of smartphone users worldwide are prepared to embrace the new technology as soon as it becomes available on the market. This group of consumers or “early adopters” could fulfill a function of 5G ambassadors. Therefore, it is vital for providers and other ICT players to earn their trust.

A recent study called Factors for 5G consumer success conducted by Ericsson Consumer & IndustryLab shows that two-thirds of smartphone users expect 5G to be mainstream within three years.

Early adopters, who compose about 14% of global smartphone users, are the most eager to adopt the new technology and interested in purchasing the corresponding handsets. In some markets, however, such forerunners represent a significant share of smartphone users. These are 44% in South Korea, 40% in China and 16% in USA. The success of 5G dwells on its adoption by these 5G forerunners. Therefore, for 5G to succeed it is important to make things right the first time.

For 5G to get a smooth start, it is vital to understand consumers’ expectations, propose use cases and devices that would satisfy the early adopters’ needs. The early adopters, in other words, those that indicate that they would buy 5G products as soon as they hit the market, are a distinguished group of consumers. They are more advanced in their use of technology, they use more data, they are more tech-savvy and they want more of everything: speed, data, and better quality of connection.

For example, consumers who belong to this group, on average, use two times more data. In addition, twice as many from this group are aware of 5G in compared to an average user. 55% of consumers who belong to this group expect that a whole new class of devices will be needed to deal with 5G speeds and 58% believe that 5G will enable new apps and services that are not possible today. Hence, the success of 5G will hinge on the adoption and appeal of 5G among the early adopters.

Trust is key

Early adopters will put 5G and new products through a tough scrutiny and only those that manage to satisfy this audience will survive. And trust is a key in this process. Our study shows that consumers are a bit skeptical towards the promises around 5G when their existing expectations from 4G have not yet been met.

For example, our research shows that despite 4G coverage being rolled out over the years, one-third of users globally still say their expectations around 4G network performance have not been met.

In addition to this over half of global smartphone users think that 3G services were promoted as 4G services, before 4G was actually available; and they expect the same to happen with 5G. Thus, the 5G early adopters suspect that operators will market their existing 4G networks as 5G even before 5G will be available on the market.

Towards 5g consumer study


Therefore, as the public awareness about 5G growth and expectations start to build up, it is important to treat marketing responsibly investing in long-term trustworthy relations especially between the providers and consumers since the former will be producing marketing material. Operators need to be very careful about how and what they market as 5G not confusing consumers with different labeling because otherwise they might simply undermine consumers’ understanding and expectations from 5G.

In conclusion, 5G will enable unlimited opportunities for new 5G use cases, devices and applications. It will provide new and faster services for consumers and business opportunities for companies. However, in order to succeed in this journey trust is fundamental and for 5G to deliver on its promises. It is important to get it right from the beginning and build relationship with the early adopter’s group of consumers on a solid ground of trust.

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