Do business professionals understand 5G? Not so much, Ciena report concludes

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There is a “significant knowledge gap relating to 5G” among U.S. business professionals, Ciena report says

Less than 20% of professional employees in the U.S. say they understand the benefits of 5G, according to new research from Ciena. These working professionals still interested in upgrading their personal handsets to 5G, the company’s research found, and about a quarter of them say they already have 5G devices in-hand. But the survey seems to indicate that working professionals see 5G technology more in a consumer light than an enterprise one — which could have implications for enterprise adoption of 5G.

The research was conducted by research firm Dynata in partnership with Ciena, and involved surveying a representative sample of more than 1,900 U.S. business professionals in mid-to-late April of this year.

The main benefit that these professionals associated with 5G was faster network access speeds, cited by 61% of survey respondents. Only 6% of them associated reduced latency or lag to be a major benefit of 5G, and 18% considered “more reliable connectivity” to be a 5G benefit.

Ciena said that 41% of the working professional surveyed reported that they “only know a little about the benefits of 5G,” another 32% said they’d heard of 5G but didn’t understand what it was and 8% saying that they’d never heard of 5G at all.

In sum, those statistics “[illustrate]a significant knowledge gap relating to 5G, both in terms of what it can deliver, and the terminology used to communicate the benefits,” Ciena concluded.

“5G is much more than just a faster wireless technology. 5G enables constant connectivity for people, machines and devices and is the infrastructure that the Internet of Things will rely on to create the cloud experience that we all need in our increasingly digital world. Yet, most professionals surveyed admit they don’t completely understand the broader benefits of 5G,” said Steve Alexander, SVP and CTO at Ciena. “Fortunately, the data also highlighted the demand for 5G services, which could be leveraged – and indeed, driven – by providers effectively communicating the benefits and delivering the services users want, both humans and machines.”

Interestingly, the survey found that when it came to personal devices, there were plenty of early 5G adopters among the respondents. Twenty-six percent of them claimed to have a 5G smartphone and cellular plan already (although it should be noted that other surveys have found that consumers aren’t the most reliable about actually understanding whether they have a 5G device and/or plan), and another 19% indicated plans to upgrade to 5G this year, meaning that fully 45% of the respondents expected to be using a 5G device and plan by the end of 2021. On the flip side, though, 39% said they had no plans to get a 5G data plan at all.

The working professionals surveyed also expected that 5G would have socio-economic benefits, with 76% saying that they thought 5G would help bridge the digital divide and, when asked which industry they were most excited to see leverage 5G, healthcare was the top choice, followed by gaming.

“People understand 5G will have an impact for closing the digital divide and providing a boost to major industries across the U.S.,” said Ciena’s Alexander. “However, alongside delivering the scalable, intelligent, and adaptive infrastructures necessary to enable 5G, service providers and their trusted technology partners like Ciena must take steps to help close the knowledge gap.”

About Author

Kelly reports on network test and measurement, as well as the use of big data and analytics. She first covered the wireless industry for RCR Wireless News in 2005, focusing on carriers and mobile virtual network operators, then took a few years’ hiatus and returned to RCR Wireless News to write about heterogeneous networks and network infrastructure. Kelly is an Ohio native with a masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, where she focused on science writing and multimedia. She has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian and The Canton Repository. Follow her on Twitter: @khillrcr

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