15m UK smartphone users ready to embrace 5G

Next generation mobile network services are proving to be a sufficiently tantalising prospect that over 15m UK smartphone users are expected to make the switch to compatible devices, according to a new survey.

Professional service firm Deloitte found that 12% of British smartphone users, equivalent to 5.8 million people, are ready to embrace 5G the instant it becomes available but their apparent eagerness is not yet translating into sales, with just 50,000 compatible devices expected to be sold this year.

This cohort of early adopters is joined by an even larger pool of 9.2 million mobile owners ready to follow in their wake should they hear positive word of mouth reports from those first out of the blocks.

Such eagerness to switch is reflected in poor consumer satisfaction levels for existing 4G services, with just 13% happy with the quality of service in terms of accessing the internet while on the move as users increasingly demand fast and reliable access to news and entertainment wherever they are.

This is exacerbated by growing demand for video content with 11% of UK smartphone owners using their device to watch live TV at least once per day, up from just 9% in 2017.

Paul Lee, head of research for technology, media and telecoms at Deloitte, said: “… the adoption rate for 5G in the UK is likely to be slower than for 4G…

“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.”

By the end of the year industry analysts expect that just 1m 5G ready devices will have been sold worldwide, a drop in an ocean of 1.5bn handset sales.

Britain is well placed for a 5G bonanza after a £700m nationwide initiative to upgrade transmitters to accept the new standard.