How are Americans getting their information about 5G?

YouGov
June 17, 2021, 2:22 PM UTC

Many Americans rely on advertisements from telecom providers to inform them about the next-generation 5G technology, but these ads are not reaching all demographics.

As 5G access grows, misunderstanding surrounding the technology has fed into debunked and baseless conspiracy theories regarding adverse health effects. This misunderstanding rose during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

YouGov’s growing roster of consumer data around 5G attitudes shows a plurality of Americans, 22%, say their main source for information about the technology is advertising from mobile network providers. This suggests carriers are given a good chance at extoling the virtues of 5G and perhaps quelling any lingering concerns around the tech. 

However, this advertising is less likely to reach younger consumers. Millennials (16%) are less likely to list mobile provider ads as a source of info, compared to Gen Xers (24%) and Baby Boomers (30%). Instead, Millennials are more likely to be informed by social media posts (22%) especially when compared to Gen Xers and Boomers (13% and 6% respectively). 

Overall, 15% of Americans overall say that social media is their main source of 5G info, while for 15% of adult consumers, it’s the news. 

Word of mouth through family or friends (8%) or advertising by other companies (4%) play a negligible role in informing the public about the next-gen network. 

What about those who are indifferent to the technology, or harbor privacy concerns? 

Among those uninterested in 5G, more than a quarter (28%) say they have not heard anything at all about the tech, indicating current marketing efforts by the industry have not reached this cohort (which, generally speaking, is more likely to be older). This group is also notably less likely than the general public to say they get 5G info via social media – perhaps confirming the power of personalized algorythms.  

Taking a closer look at those who have privacy concerns around 5G tech (who account for 11% of Americans not planning to upgrade networks in the next year), these consumers are more likely than the general public to be informed primarily by news coverage (22%) and less likely to rely on social media posts (8%). 

As telecoms push further into the age of low-latency, high-speed connectivity, they should be mindful of where consumers are getting their information, and remain proactive in shaping the narrative. 

Methodology: YouGov Profiles is based on continuously collected data and rolling surveys, rather than from a single limited questionnaire. Profiles data referenced is based on a sample size of 28,568 US adults. Profiles data is nationally representative and weighted by age, gender, education, region, and race. Learn more about Profiles.