5G technology
The Metaverse possibilities are only starting to stream in for 5G take up rates, and that's going to be another catalyst for UAE 5G-enabled smartphone sales. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: It looks like UAE smartphone users are ahead of the curve on 5G adoption – 36 per cent of them have already signed up for the super-speed services that the network provides. And it could hot 49 per cent of users as soon as in the next 12 months, according to data the telecom infrastructure firm Ericsson has come out with.

While it’s a fact that the current round of flagship smartphone launches come with 5G conformity, model prices are still pegged to the higher side. It was felt that smartphone vendors will need to bring in more of mid-priced handsets for buyer adoption rates to spike.

Clearly, in the UAE, it’s not the way this is panning out. All this even before the Metaverse – which will thrive on 5G – possibilities are just opening up.

“It is interesting to note that 5G is emerging as an important enabler for early adopters to embrace Metaverse-related services, such as socializing, playing and buying digital items in interactive 3D virtual gaming platforms,” Jasmeet Singh Sethi, Head of Ericsson ConsumerLab.

“The amount of time spent on AR apps by 5G users has also doubled over the past two years, compared to 4G users.”

The Ericsson report forecasts 5G-enabled consumers with experience of using extended reality (XR) functionality are ‘likely to be the first to embrace future devices as they are more positive about the potential of mixed-reality glasses’.

And half of 5G users who already use XR-related services weekly think that AR apps will move from smartphones to XR headsets within the next two years, compared to one-third of 4G consumer who hold this view.

The Ericsson ConsumerLab report gauged feedback from more than 49,000 consumers in 37 countries. This is said to be the ‘largest global 5G-related consumer survey in the industry to date’ and the largest consumer survey conducted by Ericsson on any topic. The survey scope is representative of the opinions of about 1.7 billion consumers worldwide and 6 million consumers in the UAE.

The report covers behavioral changes triggered by the bundling of digital services into 5G plans by telcos, particularly ‘increased use of enhanced video and AR apps’. It also addresses the speed of mainstream 5G adoption, whether consumer demands are being met, and 5G-related changes in smartphone behavior - and their impact on network traffic.

“The report shows that the next wave of potential 5G users have different expectations from the technology compared to early adopters. Overall, consumers see engaging with 5G as an essential part of their future lifestyles,” said Sethi.

According to the report, the six key trends in the UAE would likely be:

  1. 5G adoption to be inflation-resilient: 49 per cent of users in UAE intend to upgrade to 5G subscription in the next 12 months.
  2. Demanding users: Keeping both 5G early adopter and next wave user happy and to motivate 5G adoption by providing affordable phones, innovative services, and higher speed than 4G.
  3. Perceived 5G availability is emerging as the new satisfaction benchmark among consumers. While UAE has 5G population coverage of 93 per cent, only 48 per cent of 5G users typically perceive being connected to 5G more than 50 per cent of the time.
  4. 5G is pushing up usage of cloud gaming and AR. There are more than twice as many 5G users, who are typically engaging with more than three services in 2022 compared to 2020.
  5. 5G monetisation models are expected to evolve: 95 per cent of 5G users in UAE consider innovative 5G experiences to be important inclusion on their mobile broadband plans.
  6. 5G adoption is setting the path to the Metaverse. In the UAE, more than half of 4G users say they will start or increase using AR applications in real-world once they sign up for 5G.