We've heard over and over again that 5G adoption will be a slow process, with most people not expected to get 5G capable phones until 2020. But a new study says 15 million UK consumers would happily switch to 5G right now if they could, and it sounded good.
For context, the UK population is just under 67 million, so that's over a fifth of us that would potentially buy 5G services now if they were available.
The report comes from Deloitte, and says that while 5.8 million people (12% of UK smartphone users) would switch to 5G immediately if they could, another 9.2 million (19%) would also switch if they heard good things about 5G. Which they would, because it's ridiculously amazing in a way that probably won't become obvious to most people until they see it in action.
Of course, it's one thing to say "I'd switch to 5G if my mates said it was cool," and another thing entirely to actually make the decision to buy a new, 5G-capable phone and upgrade your contract to include 5G services. That's a significant financial outlay, especially at the beginning of the service, when it'll inevitably cost more.
At the moment, it's looking like we'll get 5G in the latter half of this year, with a few handsets able to support it (like the 5G Huawei Mate 20 X, the 5G Galaxy S10 and the prototype phone OnePlus is working on). Networks like EE and O2 have announced their initial 5G rollouts, but they're in specific areas of specific cities, so it'll be a good while later that everyone else gets connected up.
Dan Adams, head of telecommunications at Deloitte, comments:
"Fundamentally, the UK is a 5G-ready nation. It will be up to the handset vendors and network providers to convince their customers of the benefits they will see from switching and overcome barriers such as price, inertia, over-hype and any scepticism.
As 5G networks begin to be deployed, it will be areas of high footfall such as sports stadia, train stations and shopping centres that will give smartphone owners their first touchpoints with the technology."
Massive bonus points for use of 'stadia' there, Dan.
Paul Lee, head of research for technology, media and telecoms at Deloitte, adds:
"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. Whilst sales of 5G handsets sold in the UK this year will be modest - just tens of thousands – the roll-out of 5G will be a multi-year project and it will take some time before the full extent of the new capabilities of 5G are demonstrated and proficiently marketed by vendors."