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Ericsson Survey Finds Confused Demand for 5G Mobile in the UK

Wednesday, May 12th, 2021 (1:02 pm) - Score 1,800

A new survey from Ericsson, which makes 5G networking kit and services for mobile network operators, has found that the number of UK consumers intending to upgrade to 5G has decreased to 25% (down from 27% in 2019) and others remain confused about what the technology will deliver.

At present ultrafast 5G based mobile broadband networks via EE, O2, Three UK and Vodafone still have very limited availability across the country and the Government’s decision to ban Huawei has also slowed the rollout for some operators. But Ericsson’s latest ConsumerLab’s survey – ‘Five ways to a better 5G‘ – suggests that operators may also have other challenges than just network availability to overcome.

For example, the study found that 5 million UK smartphone users could take up 5G in 2021, yet 13% of consumers said they already owned a 5G phone but haven’t signed up to a 5G plan yet. But we must caveat this by saying that a lot of operators are making 5G seamless (i.e. not offering separate 4G and 5G plans), so with some operators you can benefit from it at no extra cost on your existing plan.


Summary of Consumer Survey Results (UK Specific)

The vast majority of UK consumers seem confused about what 5G is and can offer.”

➤ Across the UK, just 3% of phone users surveyed have a 5G phone and are on a 5G plan – leaving 97% who either don’t own a 5G device or are not subscribed to a 5G plan.

➤ 13% of consumers have a 5G phone but say they haven’t signed up to a 5G plan yet.

➤ 3% of UK consumers think they are on 5G, but have a phone that’s only capable of 4G – exactly the same proportion who have a 5G phone and plan.


➤ The number of UK consumers intending to upgrade to 5G has decreased and stands at 25% (down from 27% in 2019) – this despite flagship 5G handset launches and 5G network launches in most major UK cities from operators.

➤ Ericsson analysis further highlights that just 11% of UK consumers would realistically upgrade to 5G in 2021.

➤ This is attributed to consumer perception of lack of 5G coverage and availability, financial uncertainty due to the pandemic, 5G misinformation campaigns and lack of compelling digital services enhanced by 5G.

➤ Operators are struggling to make the breakthrough needed to convince users to switch – 70% of global consumers expect availability of innovative services and applications making use of 5G, however two-thirds of use cases highly valued by consumers have not yet been commercialized.

➤ But those that convince users to adopt 5G could benefit – in the UK, Net Promoter Score, a measure of brand loyalty for service providers was 24 among those using 5G, compared to just 1 among those using 4G.

➤ Additionally, UK consumers value 5G plans bundled with digital services and are willing to pay a further 7% more over and above the 10% premium they are willing to pay for 5G connectivity.

➤ One in five UK consumers has decreased Wi-Fi use on their handset as a result of their 5G connection, strengthening their reliance on their operator.

➤ Good 5G indoor coverage, at home and in public places like stores, is relatively more important than faster speeds and even better battery life in driving overall consumer satisfaction – highlighting the need for further deployment of spectrum and stronger indoor coverage.

➤ In the UK, 5G early adopters spend 3 hours more per week on AR apps and cloud gaming on their phone compared to a 4G user

➤ With more time being spent on bandwidth-intensive apps, 5G early adopters in our survey saw a monthly data usage increase of 2.5 times compared to 4G users

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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18 Responses
  1. Avatar photo william macgregor says:

    the rollout in my opinion is a major problem its to slow, i am bang in the middle of Glasgow and Edinburgh approx 30 miles apart yet no 5g, lucky to have 4g with o2 but very poor 4g from others.5G will probably go the same way as a windows phone or 3D TV. promises promises but no delivery.

    1. Avatar photo Mike says:

      If you want the cutting edge tech EE is generally the best bet, O2 has almost always been the worst operator.

    2. Avatar photo Sam says:

      Had been with EE before most areas can’t even make any phone call Forget it about Internet

  2. Avatar photo David says:

    5G is pointless, I’d rather the operators spent their money improving coverage in areas with no service at all. My handset is capable of 5G and I live in an area where Three claim to have excellent 5G coverage, yet there is no 5G signal indoors and even outdoors stood with clear line of sight to the mast 5G struggles to achieve 1-2 Mbps compared to 30-40 Mbps on 4G.

    1. Avatar photo Mike says:

      How do you know that is the correct mast?

    2. Avatar photo David says:

      From the map in the Network Cell Info Lite app and the cellmapper.net website which show the mast is a joint Three/EE mast and the fact I walk past it every couple of days and watched Three’s engineers upgrade it last summer.

    3. Avatar photo Phil says:

      I agree. They will just be upgrading areas already well served by 4G to add capacity and make the investment pay back quicker. Meanwhile for me in a town of 27,000, move anywhere outside of the main town area and 4G on EE is a few bars and is slow as anything, inside a building its usually pointless trying to browse on mobile data, and other operators are little better. No surprise that the various reasons for not investing in better 4G coverage already, are the same reasons we have no sign of any 5G coverage.

      4G is already plenty fast enough where there is decent coverage, with 5G not offering anything really over and above 4G, except faster draining batteries due to needing both radios on as 5G doesn’t support voice yet, the same issue we had with 4G at the start. So the 5G marketing says things like we can download a 4K moving in 10 seconds, well when was the last time anyone downloaded a 4K movie, they are streamed, and besides on mobile devices 720P is good enough!

      The only reason we have 5G is because the likes of Ericsson (and others) want to sell the same kit all over again and EE, O2, Vodafone etc all want to keep selling us new handsets all the time and signing us up to more expensive contracts. It is like the Phoebus cartel, a conspiracy to keep everyone spending.

    4. Avatar photo Mike says:


      The current licensing system discourages investment beyond the minimum requirements set at the spectrum auctions.

  3. Avatar photo Mike says:

    The great shift to home working probably hasn’t helped much either unless your landline connection is bad (making 5G a godsend).

  4. Avatar photo Michael V says:

    There’s so many benefits 5G can bring. Right now is mostly about speed.
    I have a 5G phone as I wanted one last December. I’m seeing more coverage than Three have marked on their map. I’m also seeing more 5G site going up around Cardiff. Obviously that’s including 4G/VoLTE so speeds are improving on LTE. With really fast NR speeds to of course!

  5. Avatar photo oleg says:

    three 5g london n20

    speed 500/50 ping 11

    1. Avatar photo Yevhen says:

      Олег! it is real shame as it is real lie.
      As n20 it is 800MHz channel
      with width 5 MHz only for Three in this band
      and this band is used for LTE now only and not for 5G but as Anchor band for 5G.
      And you can’t achieve what you claime in this band under any circumstances.

    2. Avatar photo oleg says:

      it is not a lie )

    3. Avatar photo oleg says:

      have a look please

  6. Avatar photo Chris Sayers says:

    I’ve been perfectly happy with 4G, it provides reasonable streaming capabilities, last year I changed to a doogee S88 Pro last year, I will only change when either no more updates or device fails, hopefully another 2 to three years,by then 4G will be even less congested, so probably another 4G phone.

  7. Avatar photo Lexx says:

    I have a 5g phone but dropped back to my Samsung s9 as needed wireless charging and smaller lighter phone

    The Motorola G 5g I got is very reasonable priced phone (£350 ish) for a 5g phone has excellent battery life as it has a correctly sized battery, but its big and way to heavy and lacks wireless charging

    Wireless charging I find useful because I need to take the phone out of the car everytime I drop an item off and use of a cable will likely eventually brake the socket or I sometimes forget to plug it in, samsung phones don’t charge quick when screen is on + gps (is the main one)

    then again wireless charging it self isn’t exactly fast as well but, but keeps same battery level percentage or slightly charges when car is not moving (note buy a car wireless charging Dock that has integrated fan or it will overheat and the phone will pause charging, the £30 one I got automatically turns on the fan and grabs the phone when you place it on the phone holder)

    Maybe in 6-9 months I look into buying a new phone but got other stuff I want to burn (pay off) before I start aiming for less important stuff

    if its working why replace it unless it does actually fail then it is important to replace,, this phone still has the original crack in the top left edge of the phone (in the black area) when I originally bought it for cheap due to the crack

  8. Avatar photo A long wait for 5G says:

    When I worked at the managers DESPISED riggers because they cost them “so much money” so they made them all redundant with a “good riddance” attitude..

    Along comes 4G and it was a total bodge with splicing into existing feeders at ground level so they didn’t need to climb masts just put 4G on 1800 band. That’s how they were morealess first to market.

    Now 5G is coming along all these riggers they despised with a passion are do desperately needed back again… WHO would have thought that possibility could occur? Wonderful modern-day managerial forward thinking.

    5G is a complete load of rubbish, lets face it, going to take YEARS to be installed where it’s needed by that time HyperOptic, CityFibre, OpenReach will have blanketed almost everywhere with FTTP and nobody will care about 5G mobile data. Yet mobile operators think they are on to a complete winner here? NOPE.

    I have WiFi everywhere I go, train stations, shopping malls, supermarkets, workplaces, home, friends.

    We don’t need to pay Cellular networks ridiculous fees a month for their overly “precious” 3Gb block of data that has more terms and conditions attached to it than a coffee morning chat show competition from ITV.

    Also having tested out 3G/4G home routers as alternative to landlines – Cellular routers are appallingly unreliable and the throughput is quickly deprioritised to useless levels. The only people likely to choose this solution is where there won’t be decent coverage so it’s a spectacular double fail. Starlink will be the solution for these people.

  9. Avatar photo John says:

    By the time 5G is ubiquitous across the Uk I’m sure my phone will be 5G compatible. I’m fine with 4g in the meantime and won’t be rushing to upgrade,It’s pointless for the browsing on my phone. but doubtless has huge benefits for the future.

Comments are closed

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