Survey: Consumers not very excited about 5G or cell service quality

A new Waveform survey analyzes consumer 5G understanding, home cell service quality, and the T-Mobile-Sprint merger. The survey follows up on a similar 2018 report to pinpoint fluctuations in the market.

5G promises faster speeds and greater security risks

Despite the efforts of a slew of attorneys general in opposition and the ire of consumer advocacy groups, the Sprint-T-Mobile merger was finalized earlier this month, and the new T-Mobile is now a thing. This afternoon, Waveform released its 5G Rollout, T-Mobile-Sprint Merger & Cell Signal April 2020 Report highlighting in-essence the state of the industry going into the post-merger reality. The report follows up on the October 2018 survey to better understand how the landscape has changed over the ensuing months. These granular details and net changes may give us clearer insights into how this market may shuffle and reorganize in the years ahead.

SEE: 5G technology: A business leader's guide (TechRepublic Premium)

The new T-Mobile dials up the competition

If the poll is any bellwether of things to come, it looks like the competition could be ratcheting up between the new-ish kid on the block and the top carriers in the industry, especially AT&T. More than one-quarter (28.8%) of current AT&T subscribers polled expressed interest in jumping ship to join the new T-Mobile. Verizon is facing less heat from the new competition. Nearly half (45.3%) of Verizon customers polled in this survey, were not interested in making the switch.

Consumers still not sold on 5G benefits

Regardless of the war chest spent on 5G marketing, Americans do not appear to fully comprehend envisioned 5G benefits at the moment. In fact, only one-third (32.8%) of US consumers "very clearly" or "extremely clearly" understood how they would benefit from 5G. Regardless of an increase in the adoption of connected smart home devices, we've previously reported similar uncertainty among consumers.

The excitement is… barely palpable

Overall, consumers don't appear to be exactly moved by the prospects of 5G in the years ahead. Since the last time this poll was conducted in 2018, there was only a slight uptick in excitement surrounding 5G technology. In the latest survey, the majority of consumers polled (65.7%) said they were not "very excited" or "extremely excited" about the technology.

Sprint and T-Mobile customers express excitement

Sprint and T-Mobile customers, on the other hand, appear to be more enthusiastic about fifth-generation wireless, with 19% of Sprint and 22% of T-Mobile customers polled noted being "extremely excited." Conversely a mere 16% and 12% of respective AT&T and Verizon customers expressing the same level of excitement about the technology.

Consumers increasingly thirsty for better home cell service

Less than one-third (29.3%) of those surveyed noted "very good" home cellular signals, compared with 40.3 of respondents posed this question as part of the 2018 survey. Based on this  significant decrease in a rather short period of time, Waveform postulates that "users' expectations of their cellular service are significantly outrunning network upgrades."

Carrier-by-carrier coverage experience varies considerably

Verizon topped the survey in terms of overall customer cell coverage satisfaction with 38% of subscribers reporting a "very good" home signal. Only about one-quarter of T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T subscribers reported a "very good" home signal when asked the same question. Furthermore, Verizon subscribers were also less likely to report a "bad" or "very bad"  home signal.

SEE: How 5G will bring new capabilities for connected devices (TechRepublic)


Overall, Waveform commissioned SurveyMonkey to poll 1,065 adult Americans online on March 30. To provide a wider sample of the US population, the online survey company utilized its age- and gender-normalized panel. Measures were taken to organize a sample representative of the overall population. The company reports a 3% confidence interval of its results excluding a noted exception in which the survey included only a respondent subset.

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Modern city with smart 5G wireless communication network concept.

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

By R. Dallon Adams

R. Dallon Adams is a journalist originally from Louisville, Kentucky. His previous work includes a wide spectrum of beats and formats ranging from tech-savvy urban planning initiatives to hands-on gadget reviews.