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Mobile users slow to upgrade to 5G due to their perception of network quality

Major study of 10,850 mobile customers across Europe says Telco operators need to do more to educate consumers on the benefits of 5G

Although almost three quarters (74%) of mobile customers in the UK are satisfied with their mobile network, one of the highest in Europe, less than a third (31%) are using 5G on their smartphone – despite over half of users (52%) with 5G access reporting a discernible improvement in performance compared to 4G.

The study of 10,850 mobile users across eight European countries by management and technology consultancy, BearingPoint, including 2,608 in the UK, found that whilst mobile network satisfaction levels are high in the Netherlands (85%), Sweden (73%), Ireland (76%), UK (74%), and France (73%) – Germany, Switzerland and Austria (all DACH countries) view their network performance very poorly – with only 13% of German customers satisfied with their mobile network.

Across Europe, whilst 84% of customers surveyed by BearingPoint for its Connectivity Challenge Study were aware of 5G, they do not truly understand its potential benefits and are concerned about network quality. As such, the study says that more needs to be done by the operators in educating consumers on the benefits of 5G and creating compelling services.


John Ward, UK CME Director, BearingPoint said:

“Awareness in the UK and across Europe is still low to the fact that 5G offers higher network bandwidth, better latency and higher reliability, and also provides the network technology with the highest data security and the best energy efficiency among the mobile access technologies.

 “There is also a clear divide between the DACH region and the rest of Europe. While most European countries outside the DACH region are largely satisfied with their mobile network (averaging 75%), the opposite is true for the DACH region, and this trend is mirrored when it comes to customer satisfaction with their fixed broadband connection. With massive investments in networks across Europe, this seems to be rather a matter of perception than actual quality.”


The study concludes that operators must also adapt their market positioning to respond to the customer perceptions, and there are five interconnected points that they need to act on:


  1. Customers expect robust network connectivity – 5G has an important role to play in improving network quality and user experience. More than 4 out of 5 respondents in the UK are aware of 5G, but less than 1 in 3 claim to use 5G on their smartphone.


  1. To drive improved satisfaction, operators need to continue to enhance the perception around network quality. 54% of European respondents overall (74% in the UK) are satisfied with their mobile network performance. This needs to be communicated more widely by operators.


  1. The benefits of new technological advances need to be communicated effectively to customers 5G is no exception. Despite 5G having been launched four years ago, a significant portion of users do not understand its potential benefits.


  1. There is a “new network technologies” price premium, but network operators must change their approach to capitalise on it. In particular, the survey showed that 40% of users across the eight countries surveyed are willing to pay a premium to use 5G to consume high quality video content.


  1. Network sustainability is important to customers, but it is not yet a key driver for monetisation. It is important to 53% of all respondents that providers focus on sustainable networks, but only 25% of people surveyed are willing to change their usage habits to become more sustainable.


John Ward added:

“Our survey shows that network sustainability is becoming a critical factor for the choice of consumers. Over half of respondents consider it to be important for providers to focus on creating sustainable networks. But while customers would prefer an environmentally friendly provider, they are not willing to pay a premium to access sustainable networks.

 From a UK mobile network operator perspective our study should allow for cautious optimism, with three quarters of consumers satisfied with their mobile network coverage, and while there is still room for improvement, the UK performed much better than many of its European counterparts. The study also highlights willingness to pay a premium for 5G high quality streaming services, which should be a positive message for network operators.”

About the study

For the study, BearingPoint analysed 10,850 customers (2,608 in the UK) to assess their adoption of 5G and satisfaction with 5G, how they perceive mobile versus fixed networks and how they will use them in the future, and their views on network sustainability. The survey respondents, all aged 18 and over, were from Austria, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK. The participants represent the average demographics of each country’s 18 and older population. The survey was undertaken by YouGov between 16th – 26th January 2023.

Download the study to find out more:


About BearingPoint

BearingPoint is an independent management and technology consultancy with European roots and a global reach. The company operates in three business units: Consulting, Products, and Capital. Consulting covers the advisory business with a clear focus on selected business areas. Products provides IP-driven digital assets and managed services for business-critical processes. Capital delivers M&A and transaction services.

BearingPoint’s clients include many of the world’s leading companies and organizations. The firm has a global consulting network with more than 10,000 people and supports clients in over 70 countries, engaging with them to achieve measurable and sustainable success.

For more information, please visit:


Lisa Baker is Group Editor for the Need to See IT Publishing Group. Lisa writes about HR, Technology, Health, the Environment and Business.
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