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As 5G arrives, UK phone users want reliability more than speed

As 5G arrives and spreads across the UK, consumers have showed a clear preference for reliability over speed when it comes to mobile networks.

A national study conducted by Global Wireless Solutions (GWS) has revealed that 41% of UK consumers consider network reliability to be more important than speed, with just 1% saying the opposite; 36% deemed both qualities to be of equal importance.

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The most commonly-cited problems that consumers “regularly” encounter when using their mobile network are closely related to reliability: 30% experience websites or apps failing to load; 21% report poor voice quality; 19% say calls don’t connect; and 19% say that calls drop mid-call.

In positive news, consumers’ need for speed seems to be satisfied: 8 out of 10 believe that it’s acceptable to wait 4-6 seconds to “complete mobile based activities” such as loading websites, and operators meet this standard 96% of the time.

This news comes as the UK’s 5G network is expanding and more and more handsets joining the market are capable of ever-faster mobile data connections.

But Dr Paul Carter, CEO of GWS commented: “While the advance of 5G brings with it exciting innovations that will undoubtedly change the way we use our phones, just like 4G did a few years ago, using your smart phone is not a race … After all, what difference does it really make if your network is a few megabits faster if you can already stream your favourite video and open apps without issues, but are still struggling with dropped calls?”

Related: 5G in the UK

The research was conducted through a combination of 936,249 data and voice task tests via the networks of EE, Three, O2, and Vodafone, in addition to focus group sessions conducted by Jigsaw Research, and a poll of over 2000 UK adults by YouGov.

The question now is whether UK networks will listen to these findings and strive to improve network reliability with the same zeal that they have shown for introducing 5G.

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