5G: Gauging concern around the world

YouGov
July 19, 2021, 9:23 PM UTC

Whether it be baseless conspiracies about its relationship with the coronavirus, or its environmental impact, many consumers around the world harbor concerns about 5G, next-generation network technology. 

According to a YouGov survey of more than 18,000 consumers in 17 key global markets, about three in ten adults say they’re generally worried about 5G networks. 

This attitude is most pervasive in some Asia-Pacific markets, including India – where half (52%) of the urban population say they are worried. As of July 2021, India does not have widespread 5G connectivity, suggesting telecom providers should adjust domestic marketing ahead of launch to address network concerns.  

A considerable proportion of adults in the United Arab Emirates (48%) and China (41%)  - both markets in which there has been substantial 5G network investment - are also concerned. 

On our list, consumers in the United Kingdom are least likely to hold any concern about the network technology, with just 16% indicating so. However, it’s worth noting 5G interest and uptake in the market is low, with just 8% stating they have a 5G device as their main device. 

Similar figures emerge in the United States, where concern is slightly higher (23%), but 5G uptake still lags behind some Asia-Pacific regions. Further, nearly three in ten (29%) Americans say they are unsure one way or another, the highest proportion of any country in our study. 

Consumers in France – home to a vocal opposition to 5G networks with critics citing environmental concerns related to running the network – are also more likely than those in other nations to indicate concern (37%). 

Consumers have relied heavily on advertisements from telcos to inform them about 5G, but not only are these failing to reach all demographic groups, the messaging is often unclear on the advantages that it provides. 

In the US for example, 22% of consumers say their main source of information about 5G is advertising from telcos. This suggests carriers have a good platform to extol the virtues of 5G and perhaps quell any lingering concerns around the technology.  

Looking at those American consumers who are indifferent to the technology, 28% say they have not heard anything at all about 5G, indicating current marketing efforts by the industry have not reached this cohort (which generally speaking is more likely to be older). Perhaps unsurprisingly this group is also notably less likely than average to say they get 5G information via social media. 

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

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Read our full report, The 5G Opportunity, here 

Methodology: The data is based on the interviews of adults aged 18 and over in 17 markets with sample sizes varying between 508 and 2,019 for each market. All interviews were conducted online in May 2021. Data from each market uses a nationally representative sample apart from Mexico and India, which use urban representative samples, and Indonesia and Hong Kong, which use online representative samples.