5G and fuelling the need for speed

5G and fuelling the need for speed
Published: 5 June 2019 - 8:24 p.m.
By: Chafic Traboulsi
Why walk when you can run?

Throughout my tenure in the ICT sphere, I’ve witnessed several iterations of network transformation unfold. With these, a common theme has continually emerged: the generation of myth and hype.

As we are rolling out the 5G networks across the Middle East and Africa, I am not surprised by the debates surrounding this exciting technological transformation. We only have to look back to 2010 as 4G was being rolled out to see something close to what is being discussed today. The difference is clear though as 5G technologies promise to open up a vast array of industrial opportunities. And for consumers, this next-generation of advancement promises to elevate connected experiences across many facets of their lifestyles. These promises are bold, but it’s hard to ignore the grand possibilities of 5G.

With the release of the Ericsson ConsumerLab report, four myths surrounding this topic are laid bare. Here’s a snapshot of these myths:

• 5G offers consumers no short-term benefits.
• There are no real use cases for 5G, nor is there a price premium on 5G.
• Smartphones will be the “silver bullet” for 5G: the magical single solution to delivering fifth-generation services.
• Current usage patterns can be used to predict future 5G demand.

The future of 5G is indeed a polarising topic. However, given the growing palate consumers have for enriched connected experiences in today’s frenetic digital world, the demand for premium offerings based on 5G capabilities is only likely to grow – especially in a region like Middle East and Africa.

Firstly, access to new spectrum will allow the download speeds to increase with 5G. As noted in the ConsumerLab findings, consumers see a near-term benefit from 5G, as they look forward to the technology providing relief from urban network congestion, and to bring more home broadband choices. In Saudi Arabia alone, almost half (49%) of respondents say they do not find mobile broadband speeds to be fast enough, with a similar number in the UAE (50%) expressing the same sentiment.

Additionally, new applications requiring reduction in latency will see the light. With 5G, immersive experiences such as gaming, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) will be taken to new heights. The speed and latency improvements that 5G brings will ease the introduction of such technologies in the wireless world.

As well as this, the future of data usage will be driven by faster speeds and connectivity. As we found in the ConsumerLab report, smartphone users say they are willing to pay up to 20 percent premium for 5G services, with half of early adopters would pay as much as 32 percent more. Furthermore, one in five smartphone users’ data consumption could reach more than 200GB per month on a 5G device by 2025. This signifies a stable appetite for data connectivity. However, more importantly, this illustrates that end users are willing to invest if it means they will have better to accessibility to faster networks.

Consumers are waking up to the improvement possibilities this technology will create and the impacts that this might have on their lives. Let’s not disappoint them.

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