5G’s Killer App Might Not Be What You Expected





While consumers have embraced 5G, many still want to better understand what 5G can actually do. In short – 5G has yet to find its killer app. 

That’s according to the 2023 Connected Consumer Survey from consulting firm Deloitte. The report said 62% of surveyed consumers have a 5G-enabled smartphone. And those who haven’t made the swap are considering it with 5G being one of the main factors.

But at the same time, nearly three-quarters of Deloittes’ survey respondents said they aren’t sure of 5G’s full capabilities. In addition, 30% are disappointed by the perceived lack of new apps and services. 

The sentiment is one that’s dogged 5G since it first went live back in 2019 – the speed is great, but what can we actually do with it? The biggest “innovation” may be a twist on an old-school tactic: the bundle. The ability to combine 5G mobile and 5G home internet from the same provider is a major draw, with the fixed wireless aspect the new wrinkle vs. old-school triple play packages. Major carriers offer promotions and deals at compelling – sometimes locked in – prices. 

The lack of any big innovative leaps may partly be a result of 5G’s meandering journey these last few years. Jack Fritz, a principal analyst in Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Technology, Media, and Telecommunications practice, said it should be taken into consideration that two of the three years 5G was more widely available, the world was navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We had a mobile technology where people weren’t that mobile,” Fritz told Cord Cutters News. 

On the flip side, the pandemic also allowed for a quicker deployment period and the carriers were largely free to build out the infrastructure. The pandemic also forever altered daily life and 5G was in a prime spot to simplify the transition. With lockdown orders, people flocked to video chat apps to stay in contact with family and friends. Fast and reliable connectivity is more important than ever with more people working from home and schools including remote-learning days, bringing 5G home internet into focus.

But for now, 5G’s killer app might be a bit more abstract than people originally hyped for the technology were expecting. Users are finally able to use 4G’s innovations to their fullest potential. The survey found that in 2022, significantly more people are interacting with their devices – using hotspots, streaming videos and playing games – since getting 5G. Fritz said the uptick in these behaviors is notable, but can be overlooked by customers who are more focused on waiting for something exclusively enabled for 5G.

Perhaps most noticeably, 5G has given customers more options for mobile and internet. As customers started navigating remote and hybrid work days, they also began reevaluating their internet service providers. Fritz said this presented an opportunity for them to explore 5G fixed wireless.

“As you get into some of the suburbs and further out into some rural areas, it’ll offer even more opportunity for different users,” Fritz said. “It’s a competitive product from a performance standpoint against your traditional terrestrial networks.” 

5G is moving significantly faster than 3G and 4G. Carriers like AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon are offering its own versions of 5G home internet while Amazon and SpaceX are poised to further augment those 5G networks.  

Fritz said he’s most excited for more interactivity possibilities – could someone help you troubleshoot an issue with your refrigerator through AR/VR? He also thinks blockchain could give retailers more insight into supply chains.

“These things are far off, but not beyond the realm of the possible,” Fritz said. “And I think they’re becoming increasingly possible.”

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly named and dated the survey. The article also misstated a statistic and misquoted an analyst. We’ve since corrected these errors.

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