Ireland needs to do better at communicating 5G

Ireland is strong on 5G technology rollout, but business and consumer impact is lagging due to misinformation and poor communication.

While Ireland compares favourably internationally, rollout of 5G has been slow with a low business and consumer understanding of its potential, a new report from Deloitte warns.

64pc of respondents to Deloitte Ireland’s latest Digital Trends Survey on Attitudes towards 5G said they feel they do not yet know enough about 5G and the benefits it brings.

“There needs to be a concerted effort to promote the benefits of 5G to the general consumer”

“Misinformation is always a barrier to technological progress,” John Kehoe, Audit partner with Deloitte and lead for the Deloitte Digital Consumer Trends survey explained.

“As part of our survey, 20pc of respondents agreed with the statement that there are health risks associated with 5G and another 25pc neither agreed nor disagreed.

“That is a worryingly high number and is further exacerbated by the fact that based on our survey, a greater proportion of young people aged 18-24 believe there are health risks (27pc) compared to 20pc overall and 7pc of those aged 65-75. There needs to be a concerted effort to promote the benefits of 5G to the general consumer.

“Overall however, 64pc of respondents agreed that they didn’t know enough about 5G in general,” Kehoe said.

Population coverage

Kehoe said the fact that three operators now have active 5G networks with coverage ranging from 30pc-50pc of the Irish population by early 2021 is a positive for 5G development in Ireland.

“While 5G rollout has been slow, we nonetheless compare favourably. Other markets are likely to see strong demand, particularly in Asia, with China leading due to its strong investment in 5G infrastructure. In some of these markets, 5G is perceived to be of critical strategic interest, and major investment has been encouraged,” said Kehoe.

Only 5pc of respondents are currently using 5G, while 24pc would switch as soon as it is available. This compares favourably with the UK, where only 2pc of respondents claim to currently use 5G.

Nearly half of all 5G users are in the Dublin area and are in the under-35 age category, which is somewhat unsurprising. At a time when all three of the main operators are actively promoting 5G we expect the competitive landscape to heat up.

Business benefits of 5G

For many of the world’s largest businesses, private 5G deployments will likely become the preferred choice, especially for industrial environments such as manufacturing plants, logistics centres and ports.

Deloitte predicts that the number of companies testing private 5G deployments is on pace to be well over 1,000 at the end of the year.

And it won’t stop there, in fact China was reported to have launched the world’s first 6G satellite into orbit on the 8 November 2020.

By John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 26 November, 2020