The first 5G networks went live in the US in late 2019, but the range of 5G-enabled mobile devices was limited, and network coverage was spotty. Telecom service providers and mobile device manufacturers finally began peeling away these limitations last year, and the floodgates are now opening.
At the end of 2020, the US market had around 15.4 million 5G mobile phone users. According to our latest research, 5G mobile phone users will grow 318% to 64.4 million by 2022. Much of this growth will be driven by Gen Z and Millennials. Like with most technology, these age groups are committed to their mobile devices and are looking forward to using 5G technology. Fifty-one percent of Gen Z, and 48% of Millennials plan to upgrade their phones to 5G compatible ones over the next 12-18 months.
While some people are looking forward to 5G so they can more easily stream on their home networks, younger generations envision taking most of the technology’s benefits with them wherever they go. With 5G capabilities, younger generations say they expect to be able to game, stream, social interact, transact with businesses, and use new technology they haven’t been able to in the past. The problem is we aren’t there yet. Ericson recently conducted a study on 5G and developed the following roadmap of capabilities.
With 27 use cases included in this roadmap, two-thirds of valuable use cases rated by consumers were found to be only in the technology showcases or research and development stage and not available for consumers to experience. We still have a long way to go, but the younger generations will be the key driving force.