Nov 20, 2020

Orange, Bouygues go live with 5G in France

Mobile Networks
Joanna England
3 min
Two French telecoms have launched limited 5G services for the first time, with uptake expected to rise in 2021
Two French telecoms have launched limited 5G services for the first time, with uptake expected to rise in 2021...

France has gone live with 5G following the launch of the new communications technology from two of the country’s leading mobile providers.

Initial access is limited to the country’s largest operators, Orange and Bouygues which currently have 5G plans on the market. However, industry experts believe the service will become mainstream next year. As a result, officials have advised telecom providers not to waste any time in setting up infrastructure.

So far, French telecoms have invested $3.5bn to obtain frequencies, despite not expecting a rapid adoption of the service. 5G is currently only available to residents living close to the 500 antennae used in the test phase of the implementation, across nine cities including Paris, Lyon, and Marseille. 

But the country’s telecom regulators expect each operator to set up 3,000 transmission towers by 2022, increasing to 8,000 towers two years later, and a total of 10,000 by the year 2025.

Growing market

Subscribers to 5G are not expected to increase greatly until next year and will be limited to technophiles, but numbers will increase over the next 12 months, said Orange’s CEO Stéphane Richard. “It’s a topic for 2021, especially in the second half,” when the network expands, he said.

Work on wooing commercial operations to harness the benefits of 5G has been a priority for Bouygues Telecom. The company recently partnered with IBM to evaluate ways to support business customers using 5G mobile networks. 

The result is Open Lab 5G, which uses the expertise of Bouygues Telecom and IBM’s technology services to assess the benefits of 5G, namely speed, latency, bandwidth and an increasing number of devices. It will be open to all companies wishing to experiment with 5G, to discover its potential and develop use cases. 

“Networks are key to the digitalisation of businesses and the contributions of 5G will be considerable,” said François Treuil CEO of Bouygues Telecom Entreprises.


But the drive towards 5G has not been smooth for France, with various voices of dissent coming from left-wing and Green party mayors who have called for a moratorium on the new technology until the publication of a regulator’s review in Spring 2021. They are primarily concerned that the new technology will have health and environmental consequences.

5G has generated much controversy globally over its use of millimetre electromagnetic waves, also known as extremely high-frequency waves, which operate at a much higher level along the electromagnetic spectrum than 4G or 3G.

Though leading health experts and the FDA and EFA have debunked the claims, saying the technology is "not formally classified RF as cancer-causing," debate persists.

Government support

However, French President Emmanuel Macron has dismissed 5G’s detractors and urged the technology and telecoms industry to pursue the network rollout and be globally competitive. In September, he even described proponents of the current telecom services of 3G and 4G, as preferring the “Amish model” of technology.  

“It would be a shame for France to have the best land network, with the best fibre optic network in Europe, and to be the last in mobile networks by refusing the 5G market,” noted Xavier Niel, CEO of Iliad, the parent company of Free Mobile, a provider yet to receive permissions to offer 5G. 

He added, “It’s also an image or perception of France abroad that could cause us to lose our competitive edge.”

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May 18, 2021

Ericsson insight report: What do consumers think of 5G?

6 min
Ericsson has released a new report revealing early adopters’ experiences of 5G and what they think of the network. We take a look at its findings.

Ericsson, a Swedish telecoms company, has released a new ConsumerLab insight report which shows what early adopters of 5G think of the network. Claimed to be the biggest ever 5G consumer study, Ericsson conducted more than 30,730 online interviews with smartphone users between the ages of 15 and 69 across 26 5G commercial markets, as well as non-commercial markets. 

According to the company, the study included the opinions of 1.3bn consumers and 220mn 5G users to discover the key trends influencing “the adoption, usage, and perception of users towards 5G.” The report also suggests five steps that service providers can take to meet both current and future customer expectations.  


Key findings 


1) Consumer 5G upgrade intention rises in spite of the pandemic 


Image: Ericsson

Image: Ericsson.

The first finding that the study revealed was that there was a significant increase in the number of people considering an upgrade to 5G either from a 4G-enabled smartphone or a 5G phone with a 4G subscription. The data contained in the study showed that at least 300mn smartphone users aged between 15 and 69 could take up 5G in 2021. On the other hand, 22% more smartphone users with 5G-enabled devices said they could have adopted the 5G network had knowledge apps providing them with information about it been addressed. 


2) 5G prompts changes in user behaviour and starts to displace Wi-Fi

Image: Ericsson


Image: Ericsson

The report also uncovered details on how 5G was changing user behaviour, with more consumers preferring it to Wi-Fi. 20% of those surveyed said that they have “decreased their usage of Wi-Fi after upgrading to 5G, while 14% have stopped using Wi-Fi altogether. The data also revealed that 5G users spend two more hours per week using cloud gaming and one more hour on Augmented Reality apps compared to 4G users. 


3) Indoor 5G coverage is twice as important as speed or battery life 


Image: Ericsson


Image: Ericsson

While 40% of 5G consumers are more than satisfied with the network speeds, indoor coverage was considered more important in driving consumer satisfaction. In addition, only 29% of surveyees said they were “satisfied” with the apps and services available on 5G plans. This meant that around 70% of users were dissatisfied. According to the research, immersive video, which includes Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), contributes to 20% of the total time 5G users spend on digital services. 


4) 5G users expect more innovation   

Image: Ericsson

Image: Ericsson 

The results have also shown that 70% of users are not satisfied with the availability of innovative services and “expect new applications to make use of the 5G network”. This clearly leaves only 30% of 5G users who are satisfied with the services.  


5) Consumers value 5G plans bundled with digital services


Image: Ericsson

Image: Ericsson

Despite 5G adopters favouring these, around two-thirds of use cases rated by consumers were found only in the research and development stage or the technology showcase and were not available for them to experience, the report shows. Furthermore, a recent ConsumerLab study conducted by Ericsson revealed US$31trn in addressable consumer revenues that will “flow over 5G networks by 2030”. It also showed that service providers could secure USD 3.7 trillion of this when driven by 5G connectivity. 

However, according to Ericsson, the greatest revenue boost will, in fact, come from the digital service-bundled 5G tariffs. The aim of this is to “convince consumers of the value of a 5G network platform”, Ericsson says. 


Five ways to improve the 5G consumer experience 

In addition to finding out adopters’ opinions of the network, the report, based on this information, also suggests five ways that the 5G consumer experience can be improved. 


1) Educate and better market the value of 5G 


Image: Ericsson


Image: Ericsson.

Currently, there is a large gap in knowledge surrounding the 5G network and in terms of making the decision to upgrade. This, the report suggests, is due to “heavy tech jargon” used in 5G marketing confuses consumers and their understanding of its value, capabilities, and what it offers. Research shows that will 4 in 10 users intend to upgrade to 5G globally, only half will do so in 2021, with the rest upgrading in 2022.  

Providing a solution to the problem of the “5G knowledge gap”, the report points out that the previously mentioned additional 22% of consumers with a 5G-ready device could have upgraded to the network last year had the value of 5G technology been better marketed, tailoring information to consumers’ needs. 


2) Ensure consistent 5G coverage 

The report showed that 60% of consumers in Switzerland were satisfied with the network’s performance, compared to 30% who were “very satisfied with the performance of the 4G network. In the US, on the other hand, the study shows 14% more users are "very satisfied" with 5G compared to 4G. It was found that indoor 5G coverage was more important than outdoor coverage, speed, and battery life due to consumers staying at home during the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Ensuring consistency of coverage, especially indoors, is a solution and focal point for the future of the 5G network. 


3) Adapt to the network requirements for new services


Image: Ericsson

Image: Ericsson

The 5G network is ever-encouraging changes in user behaviour and, with it, brings different service requirements. As mentioned previously,  Wi-Fi usage is decreasing both at home and in other locations due to 5G being the preferred choice. 

During the pandemic, while staying at home, broadband usage was at its highest according to Ericsson’s report, and some consumers were relying on 5G cellular connectivity as a backup network whenever their Wi-Fi network developed performance issues. However, to ensure 5G has the capabilities to deal with the increased demand, Ericsson believes it is important to adapt it and services providers “need to go beyond existing bundled services such as music and video streaming”, the report says. 


4) Focus on what consumers want 5G to do

Ericsson says that another way to improve the 5G consumer experience is to focus on “jobs-to-be-done” or services that consumers want 5G to provide. “Identifying and understanding the jobs consumers want 5G to do is the first step in envisioning and offering use cases that consumers want, especially ones they are likely to pay for”, the company said. 

The study highlighted five key jobs that consumers hope 5G will them to do. These are: 

  1. To be productive and efficient 
  2. To be creative 
  3. To provide new ways of connecting and socialising 
  4. The need for novelty (surprise, thrill, discovery)
  5. Rewarding “me-time”. 

Known as the “jobs-to-be-done theory”, the report says that it “provides an anchor point from which service providers can create value via new or existing use cases”. 


5) Increase innovation and accelerate the availability of use cases via ecosystem partnerships 

Image: Ericsson

Image: Ericsson

Using the jobs-to-be-done framework, Ericsson tested 27 different use case concepts aligned with the consumer needs so that they could assess which concepts consumers feel are worth paying for, while also assessing their current development phase. Below are the results. 

  1. Business ready: Digital services/use cases that are currently being bundled in 5G plans by service providers or are widely available.
  2. Technology showcases: use cases that are currently relegated to just technology demonstrations by service providers.
  3. Still in R&D: use cases that require significant research and development to solve technology complexity or see ecosystem readiness challenges.

By obtaining this data, Ericsson is able to assess the ways in which it can increase innovation and improve the availability of use cases as they embark on their mission to improve the 5G consumer experience.

The full report can be viewed here.

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