Get ready: the fifth generation of wireless network technology is here. 5G promises speeds that were once inconceivable, the fastest of which could allow users to download a Blu-Ray movie in about two minutes. Remember the hazy days of Napster and dial-up? If so, you know this is mind-bogglingly fast.
Although the infrastructure for 5G will take time to build, several carriers have already rolled out networks in a few U.S. cities. To gauge users’ reactions, CivicScience asked nearly 1,800 U.S. adults about 5G services on their phones in late April and early May.
As the data show, early adopters of 5G are split between liking it and being indifferent. For now, the majority of adults (41%) indicate they aren’t interested in 5G, though 28% still hope their carrier offers the technology soon.
Not surprisingly, young people are leading the way with 5G. Adults under 25 are twice as likely to have tried and liked 5G on their phones than any other age group, and they show far more interest in the technology, with only 21% saying they aren’t interested. These same young adults also offer the biggest upshot for carriers in the future: over ¼ haven’t heard of 5G, a larger segment than that of any older age group.
Having access to 5G is based on one’s carrier and/or area and those with non-iPhones are more likely to already have 5G service at this point – especially Google Pixel owners. This makes sense as Google is namely a Verizon-specific carrier, through an exclusion deal expiring this year, and Verizon is the first and only carrier to offer 5G at the moment.
Streaming and 5G
Given 5G’s speed, it makes sense that people who use their phones for streaming account for some of the most satisfied 5G users. Listening to music via streaming services like Amazon Music, Spotify, or Pandora is strongly associated with having or wanting to have 5G service.
The same holds true for adults who stream TV shows and movies. Though streaming video on a smartphone isn’t as common as streaming music, adults who do watch TV or movies on their devices appear even more eager for 5G. Of those who stream video content a few times a week, 54% say they hope to receive 5G service before long.
A strong correlation also exists between adults who spend time on social media and those interested in 5G. Spending less than an hour per day on social media isn’t indicative of wanting the next-gen upgrade, but any more than an hour changes the calculus dramatically. Thirty-seven percent of adults who spend 2-4 hours on social media daily haven’t tried 5G but hope their carrier adds soon. For adults who spend more than 4 hours a day scrolling through their feeds, the numbers are even clearer: 50% want 5G soon.
More to Look For
5G’s speed will surely enhance how efficiently mobile devices work and how frequently people turn to them for streaming music, watching video, and checking in on social media. But 5G isn’t simply about faster phones. It’s also about the “Internet of Things,” a group of devices that communicate with each other over wireless networks: smart home appliances, gaming platforms, self-driving cars, etc.
The Internet of Things requires lightning-quick reaction times between machines (a term known as latency), and the goal of 5G is 10 milliseconds—about the latency of the human eye. This kind of change could herald a substantial shift in the way we live and think about our lives, ushering more than young folks into the 5G fold. As the infrastructure for this new network becomes more widespread, and compatible devices more ubiquitous, be sure to check back to find out what people think of 5G then.