Consumers want 5G to solve speed and price woes, Ericsson report finds

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Operators may have a ready customer base for 5G, with more than three quarters of consumers claiming the technology is appealing to them.

The survey of global smartphone users by Ericsson found that having the highest internet speeds was the most important factor for 31 percent of consumers choosing a new smartphone plan. This exceeded the rollover of unused data at 11 percent and no penalty for exceeding data allowances at nine percent.

The survey found 5G appealed to 76 percent of users globally, with 40 percent claiming to have some knowledge of its possibilities and 10 percent feeling confident explaining the technology to others.

Twenty-six percent felt 5G should be many times faster than 3G or 4G, while 13 percent believed it should offer better speeds than Wi-Fi networks. The same proportion felt 5G should provide better network coverage, while 10 percent desired better network reliability.

However, consumers also expected 5G to address other frustrations with current data services, with 13 percent expecting cheaper plans. Fifty-seven percent of respondents wished to pay a single fee for each service or device attached to the next generation network, rather than for how much data is consumed.

On average, in most countries consumers expected to be using 5G around 2.5 years after it was launched in their market. While plans vary, the consensus is 5G will widely launch from 2020 onwards.

The report also revealed that consumers faced a number of problems with their current data plans. Fifty seven percent found it difficult to understand what was included within their contracts, while only 30 percent were satisfied that operators present them in a transparent way.

Half of consumers were unaware of the limits of their plans but the same proportion were curbing usage to avoid exceeding their caps. However, 70 percent were unaware that mobile ads using up their data allowances.

The confusion amongst consumers was reflected in data usage, with only 33 percent using up their exact allowance each month and the remainder either exceeding it or having some left over.

Twenty-five percent of heavy data users, representing 14 percent of global smartphone users, were underbuying data while 60 percent of light users bought more than they required.

The report also revealed that 70 percent of users buying unlimited plans were not the biggest users of data, with the average usage for those customers, aside from those in Finland where figures were not available, at 7.5GB. The Nordic country is the world's heaviest data consumer.

The report surveyed 14,000 smartphone users around the world and combined this information with analysis of operator strategy and data from smartphone analytics company App Annie.

In November, Ericsson forecast that there would be a billion 5G connections by 2023.

Vendor rival Nokia launched its own consumer 5G report in November, which found 47 percent of consumers believed 5G would be a slightly faster version of 4G but only 30 percent believing 5G would make a fundamental difference to download speeds and change how they connect devices.

Mobile Europe is currently polling operators for its annual survey - click here to take part.