Consumers in the UAE excited about 5G technology

21 December 2020 3 min. read

A new Oliver Wyman study has revealed that UAE consumers are happy to pay extra for the perks of 5G, more so than in other major markets.

The global management consulting firm surveyed more than 6,000 consumers across six countries: UAE, France, Germany, Spain, UK and US. Conducted just as the second wave of lockdowns was materialising in key markets, the study aimed to gauge attitudes towards 5G as virtual working became a norm again.

Due for an imminent boom in the global market, 5G tech boasts higher capacity, larger bandwidth and more security than any previous network infrastructure. Touted in the long term as a harbinger of the digital economy, the technology has suddenly taken on the more immediate avatar as an enabler for remote working during the pandemic.

Many consumers are indifferent or skeptical towards 5G

Yet, not all markets have warmed to 5G. According to Oliver Wyman, more than half its survey respondents remain indifferent towards or skeptical of the technology. Doubts have been sowed since the very start of the 5G paradigm – many argue that 5G infrastructure is an instrument of control while some have baselessly linked it to the spread of Covid-19. At any rate, conspiracies are in abundance around the technology.

On the contrary, consumers in the UAE are looking forward to the 5G boom, particularly the younger segments of the population. Nearly half of the country’s youth is either excited or very excited about the range of possibilities from 5G technology – a higher interest rate than any other surveyed market.

And it’s not just an academic interest. Across age groups, a staggering 70% of UAE consumers would actually change their mobile service provider for a more integrated 5G offering. Many are willing to pay that little bit extra as well. For instance, nearly a quarter of respondents in the UAE would pay an extra 20% for unlimited mobile data, more so than any other country.

UAE consumers would pay a premium for connectivity benefits

A fifth would pay the same premium for much faster mobile Internet speed, which is at par with the US and higher than other markets. Quality is also a priority for UAE consumers. The 16% share of consumers willing to pay a premium for better quality mobile connections is behind only Germany by one per cent.

Consumer expectations are clear, and the market is working to meet these demands through the 5G revolution. An example is UAE-based telecom giant Etisalat – considered to be one of the most valuable brands in the Middle East – which switched to 5G last year and has since been focused on innovation in the space.

According to Oliver Wyman Middle East’s Head of Communications, Media and Technology Rogerio Dienes, the UAE’s vibrant 5G landscape has to do with the country’s thriving business environment, characterised by an up and coming digital economy.

“The UAE has for long positioned itself as one of the most progressive and innovative countries in the world when it comes to technology and connectivity and was the first Arab nation to launch 5G. As such, coverage is a key development criterion for the UAE digital society vision – empowering new services for consumers, enterprises and society is crucial,” said Dienes.