Though 5G represents many things, it also is destined to become the key marketing emphasis for major U.S. mobile service providers, in the same way that “gigabit” has become a marketing emphasis for fixed network internet access providers. That does not necessarily mean most customers buy the headline service. Indeed, they do not.
But the headline speed (and latency) and new things that can be done on the new platform will be the marketing emphasis.
That is not unusual. Looking even at the ways people use internet access services, the “headline” offers often do not match the actual consumption or buying patterns especially closely. In other words, the main impact of gigabit speed marketing is to drive uptake of the tiers of service slower than a gigabit, but faster than what consumers were buying before gigabit marketing began.
The big wild card right now is whether 5G will feature the introduction of speed tiers in the mobile business, as is the standard case for fixed network access. If so, headline speeds likely will assume a role similar to what happens in the fixed network business: “speed” will become a key driver of advertising and messaging.
That is the case now, but in a more-restricted sense of “our network is faster” being the attempted claim. It is conceivable that in the 5G era, that might be supplanted by a broader “pick the plan that works for you” focus, if and when it is possible to buy mobile packages based not only on usage allowances, but also access speed and possibly other attributes.
Even so, most consumers are unlikely to choose neither the fastest nor the slowest tier of service, opting instead for one of the tiers in the middle of the speed/price/value range.
Past experience suggests that will be the case.