How 5G will bring new capabilities for connected devices

With an average of 11 connected devices in US households, consumers are ready for faster and more reliable 5G networks.

5G cybersecurity concerns and physical challenges: What you need to know Dan Patterson discusses how 5G will enable IoT, AR, VR, 3D renderings, and more. He also talks about the numerous cybersecurity concerns with 5G.

Connected devices are dominating the consumer market, and 5G is about to take these capabilities to new levels, according to a Deloitte report on Wednesday. The average US household has an average of 11 connected devices, including seven smart screens to view content. And further adoption of smartphones, next-generation entertainment, and smart homes will all be bolstered by the release of 5G, the report found. 

SEE: 5G mobile networks: An insider's guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

"People are in love with being connected at all times; particularly, if it provides them access to information and entertainment," said Kevin Westcott, vice chairman of Deloitte. "The real exciting part for consumers is what the innovators will do with 5G."

In the past, consumers tended to learn about technologies as they became available to the public. With 5G, however, consumers are well aware of the promises of the technology. Since connectivity has grown so significantly, consumers have heightened anticipation and expectations around the high speeds and real-time connectivity 5G touts, Westcott said. 

Deloitte's Connectivity and Mobile Trends report found that consumers are ready to adopt 5G devices. The majority (67%) of consumers said they would be more likely to upgrade to a 5G-compatible smartphone when 5G becomes available. Another 62% of consumers said they will likely replace their home internet with 5G Wi-Fi service.

The effects of 5G on connected devices and networking will be significant, the report found. 

5G and smartphone adoption 

The smartphone refresh cycle is getting longer: Nearly one in three consumers said they have a smartphone that is at least two years old. Less than 60% of consumers said they plan on buying a new smartphone in the next two years, and 5G could be a factor, the report found. 

"There's two things going on there," Westcott said. "One is there's anticipation for the next generation, 5G. Also, there's been moderate increases [with each generation] of the phones; we get slightly better screens, slightly better sound, maybe better cameras, but there has not been a big leap forward—until we get to 5G."

More than half (52%) agreed that their current phone has the capabilities they need, or that the features of new phones aren't advanced enough to warrant upgrading. Others (40%) cited economic factors as the reason they won't upgrade, as the phones are too expensive or not worth the upgrade, the report found. 

5G and entertainment

5G will also have a significant impact on next-generation entertainment, especially as more carriers invest in and roll out 5G in the next couple years, the report found. 

Some 43% of consumers said they have issues watching videos on their smartphones, and 41% said they feel their mobile data isn't fast enough, the report found. 5G could drastically improve the mobile video watching experience for consumers. 

More than 40% of Gen Z consumers said they will play more mobile video games with 5G, and nearly 35% of Gen Z and millennials said 5G would change how they use augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR), the report found. 

"As carriers roll out 5G in the United States, a significant number of consumers will adopt the service quickly — if it delivers on its promise of faster speeds and better coverage," Westcott said in the press release. "Major networks and studios will continue to launch their own streaming and other data-heavy entertainment services like online multiplayer games, augmented reality, and virtual reality, accelerating the race to attract and retain customers. Providers that can satisfy the 'connectivity-plus-content' equation first will likely be the most successful."

SEE: Special report: How 5G will transform business (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

5G in the home 

Smart home technology will see the biggest effects of 5G, especially if 5G paves the way for smart device integration, Westcott said. 

Only 28% of consumers use at least one device for home automation and control, such as a thermostat, lighting system, or a security camera connected to the internet. However, 62% of home automation users rank 5G's potential to offer better connectivity in the home as one of the top three capabilities likely to drive them to use 5G, the report found. 

We've seen the beginning of smart home and device integration, with consumers using their devices to adjust lights or appliances, but 5G could enable even greater functionality, Westcott said. 
For example, "I have a home automation system, but it's not integrated with anything except it's connected to the internet, so I can talk to my phone. My frustration always is if I drive into my house, and I'm the first one home, my wearable, my watch, or my phone, should be able to interface with my home automation system," Westcott said. 

"[The tools] should turn the lights on in the living room and the kitchen, which is the first place I always go. It should know all of that," Westcott continued. "But if I get home, and my kids are home, maybe it's a different setting; maybe it turns off the television they're watching and turns on the television in their room, so they know to leave and go to their room."

"I would really like all of that to be integrated, and 5G will be one of those things that will allow us to leapfrog into that next opportunity," he added. 

5G and privacy 

Privacy remains a paramount concern for users, with data and security breaches remaining in the public eye. Federal legislations in particular made people much more aware of data privacy, as things like GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act made headlines, Westcott said. 

The majority (72%) of respondents agreed with the statement, "I'm more aware now of how my data is collected and used than a year ago." Yet, more than half (52%) of respondents said the value they get from their online services outweighs privacy accounts, the report found. 

"Consumers are now starting to understand the vast amount of data that's being collected and the value that they're giving up," Westcott said. "A lot of our research says that people are willing to give up some personal data if they're getting value for it, but they definitely want to be able to control it and delete their personal data if they're not getting value, or they're concerned."

Some 59% of consumers said they are "very" or "extremely" concerned about their smartphone data; 73% said the same regarding the security of their smart speakers; and 72% reported the same concern for home automation devices, according to the report. 

The vast majority (91%) believe they should be able to control, edit, and delete their personal data, the report found. 

To stay protected, Westcott recommended not using a login from a social network to sign up for other platforms. Additionally, users should be wary about what information apps ask for, especially contact and address books. Awareness is key for keeping data protected, Wescott said. 

For more, check out How to navigate cybersecurity in a 5G world on TechRepublic.

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