When compared to 4G users, today’s consumers see 5G as part of their daily life — and expect it to play a significant role going forward. The study showed that 5G users already spend an average of one hour per-week or more on metaverse-related services, including gaming in virtual worlds and AR, than 4G users. In fact, “half of 5G consumers who already use extended-reality (XR) related services believe AR apps will move from smartphones to XR headsets within two years,” Ericsson’s research stated.
To arrive at these conclusions, the vendor surveyed approximately 49,000 consumers in 37 countries, which according to Ericsson is “the largest global 5G-related consumer survey in the industry to date and the largest consumer survey conducted” by the company on any topic. “The survey scope is representative of the opinions of about 1.7 billion consumers worldwide, including 430 million 5G subscribers,” said a press release on the report.
In the Metaverse Zone
According to Gartner by 2026 a quarter of people worldwide will spend at least one hour in the metaverse for work, shopping, education, social interaction and/or entertainment, Jasmeet Singh Sethi, Head of Ericsson ConsumerLab, told SDxCentral via email.
“Our research reveals that we no longer need to wait for 2026, this trend is visible now !! with 5G users on average spending one hour more per week in metaverse-related services than 4G users, such as shopping in virtual worlds, attending virtual concerts or events, online gaming or using AR applications,” he wrote via email. “In addition, 5G will enable increased usage of immersive services. A total of 41 percent of 4G users who plan to sign up to 5G say they will start using or increase their usage of AR applications in the real world once they sign up.”
Connected to the above trends, Sethi said Ericsson expects that rather than expecting consumers to jump into using advanced AR apps on XR glasses, video consumption is more likely to move from smartphones to XR glasses first.
“Access to 5G continues to push video streaming usage among users. 5G users consumed 55 minutes more per week live streaming content on their smartphones and 13 minutes more HD video when compared to 4G users. But what will this usage look like in 2025 if an iconic device such as smartphone-tethered AR glasses emerges on the scene?” he said. “Will video consumption still be confined to smartphones or PCs? We asked consumers to predict how their video consumption would change over the next five years. Do they expect time spent watching video on their smartphones to increase even further or have we reached “peak video”?”
Ericsson’s survey revealed that 5G users expect by 2025 to be consuming two extra hours of video content weekly on mobile devices, of which 1.5 hours will be on mixed-reality glasses rather than smartphones.
“This implies that consumers predict only a marginal increase in video consumption on smartphones and expect new emerging devices to take over in the long run. This raises an important question whether the XR glasses will kill the smartphone as we know today,” said Singh.
Proof of Value for 5G
The shift in consumer usage of 5G will put the pressure on operators to meet high consumer expectations who will expect to see “proof of value of 5G,” said Sethi.
In addition, population coverage metrics are no longer enough to convince consumers of 5G availability, he said. “They would rather like to see crowdsourced results of how other users experience the network i.e how often can you connect to 5G?”
Finally, six in 10 consumers surveyed expect 5G offerings to go beyond offering more gigabytes or marketing the speed card. “Consumers are expecting tailored network capabilities for specific needs, for example, request on-demand network enhancement like a low lag session while streaming games. CSPs need to explore new business models which may involve exposing network quality of service APIs to developers and OTTs who may want to offer a differentiated and premium experience to consumers,” he said.