What type of mobile data connection do Americans and Brits have?

Janice Fernandes
January 05, 2022, 5:22 PM UTC

5G promises to offer an improved digital experience with a more effective and efficient network. But how many consumers use mobile phones that are capable of 5G network?  

A new analysis from YouGov looks at what kind of mobile connection consumers in Great Britain and the United States can access. It reveals that just a third of Americans (30%) use phones with 5G capability, and that share drops by almost a half among Brits to 17%.

A majority of the consumers in both the US and GB continue to use mobile phones which are capable of accessing only 4G technology (45% and 63% respectively). 

Perhaps surprisingly, age is not a differentiating factor among American consumers when it comes to using a mobile phone with 5G – the share of 18-24-year-olds who have access to 5G is slightly lower than among consumers over 55 years (25% vs. 27%). Older Brits, however, don’t seem to be too inclined towards 5G - only 11% of those 55 and above have phones that are 5G capable while the figure is 16% among 18-24-year-olds. 

So what’s stopping consumers from upgrading to phones with 5G technology? 

The most common reason for consumers to say they are unlikely to upgrade their mobile phone is that they are simply not interested. While the share of Americans who are not interested is 12%, more than a quarter of British consumers (28%) can’t muster any enthusiasm for this new generation of technology. 

One in ten US consumers (11%) say the high cost of phones with 5G capability is currently another big deterrent to an upgrade, while 15% of GB adults give the same reason. A handful of consumers say the fact that they’ve just bought a non-compatible phone is enough to put them off upgrading again in the next 12 months (4% US, 6% GB). Data privacy issues are also a factor for a small number of consumers.  

Among users who are considering a change in carrier/network provider within the next 12 months, while a cheaper deal and value for money are still some of the main reasons in both markets, almost a quarter of the US switchers (22%) would do so to benefit from 5G services. Comparatively only a small share of nearly one in ten British switchers (7%) would consider changing for 5G benefits. 

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