5G is already paving the way for the metaverse

Leading the metaverse, 30% of French users say they will start or expand the use of augmented reality applications in the real world after subscribing to 5G.

ConsumerLab’s recently released “5G: The Next Wave” report is the largest consumer survey to date on 5G. More than 49,000 consumers in 37 countries were interviewed for this study. This is the industry’s largest global 5G survey to date and the largest consumer survey Ericsson has conducted on any topic. The scope of the survey is representative of the views of approximately 1.7 billion consumers worldwide, including 430 million 5G subscribers.

Nationally, it represents 2 million French 5G users. As 5G adoption shifts from early adoption to mass adoption in many parts of the world, this major global study underscores consumers’ growing engagement with 5G and their expectations for future use.

By sifting through Ericsson’s tracking data on 5G launches since 2019 and the new consumer survey, Ericsson’s ConsumerLab identified six key trends impacting the next wave of 5G adoption. The report addresses behavioral changes caused by the digital service bundle to 5G offerings from communication service providers, including increased use of enhanced video and augmented reality applications. It also discusses the extent of 5G adoption by the general public, consumer satisfaction and the changes associated with 5G in smartphone use – and their impact on network traffic.

6 key trends

Interestingly, 5G is emerging as an important means for early adopters to adopt metaverse-related services such as socializing, gaming and purchasing digital items in online interactive virtual gaming platforms. The time 5G users spend on augmented reality apps has also doubled in the past two years.

  • 5G adoption will be inflation-proof: 16% of French users still plan to move to 5G in the next 12 months.
  • Another wave of demanding users: Satisfy both 5G early adopters and those in the next wave by providing greater coverage and innovative services to drive 5G adoption.
  • The perceived availability of 5G is emerging as the new criterion for consumer satisfaction. While France has 5G coverage of 81% of the population, only 27% of 5G users feel they are connected to 5G more than 50% of the time.
  • 5G increases the use of enhanced video and online gaming (cloud gaming). There are 1.5 times more 5G users in France using more than three services compared to 4G users.
  • 5G monetization models need to evolve: 60% of mobile users in France want to find tailor-made capabilities in 5G offerings that meet specific needs.
  • The adoption of 5G paves the way for the metaverse. In France, 30% of 4G users say they will start or expand the use of augmented reality applications in the real world after subscribing to 5G.


5G users spend on average 1 hour more per week on metaverse related services than 4G users.

These virtual worlds exist in online and mobile games like Roblox, Fortnite or AR games like Niantic’s, social virtual reality platforms or platforms that allow users to create experiences, socialize, sell/buy or have fun in 3D environments such as Zepeto or Ifland from SK Telecom. Technologies such as VR, AR, AI, 5G, Blockchain, NFT and many more are all located in the metaverse world and represent a convergence and scale-up of these different products, services and visions in one or more interoperable online worlds.

Today, 5G already offers features such as faster speeds, reliability and low latency to enable users to experience XR and other activities that may be further enhanced in the future. 5G users who currently have some experience with XR are already very positive about the future and believe that progress will come much faster than users who are less experienced with these new technologies.

Consumers expect 5G to continue to drive the use of enhanced video (AR/VR) beyond the smartphone

According to Gartner, by 2026, a quarter of the world’s population will spend at least an hour in the metaverse for work, shopping, education, social interaction and/or entertainment. Our research shows that this trend is visible even this year: 5G users spend an average of one hour more per week on metaverse-related services than 4G users, such as shopping in virtual worlds, attending virtual concerts or events, playing online or augmented reality. In addition, 5G will enable greater use of immersive services. A total of 41% of 4G users who are considering signing up for 5G say they will start using or scale up real AR apps once they sign up.

5G users with XR experience will be early adopters of future emerging devices as they are much more positive about the future of mixed reality glasses and the new devices that will be available. Half of 5G users who already use XR-related services on a weekly basis think AR apps will move from smartphones to XR headsets within two years, while only a third of 4G users think so.

Building fully interactive 3D metaverses with a large number of simultaneous users, filled with rich media of immersive video and sound, is based on heavy data processing, real-time rendering in the cloud closer to users, advanced spatial mapping to digital objects in the physical world display and lag-free connections to XR headsets or smartphones. With significantly faster peak upload and download speeds than 4G, coupled with limited latency, 5G is much more capable of meeting these massive demands. Increasing access to 5G will support the continued development of the metaverse by providing the speed and power for digital worlds to operate at scale.

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