In Business Model, Internet Access, Mobile, Spectrum

Even if most of the attention in popular media is about “cord cutting” related to linear video subscriptions, internet access  cord cutting arguably is an equally-big potential issue.

According to Magid’s 2017 Mobile Lifestyle Study, an annual study of 2,500 U.S. consumers that focuses on emerging trends in the mobile market, more than three in ten smartphone owners expressed interest in cancelling their home broadband service in favor of just having 5G. Interest was particularly high among Millennials, exceeding 40 percent.

That is quite a lot higher than the 10 percent of consumers who reported they would consider mobile substitution for internet access found by some other studies. A study by Parks Associates suggests that perhaps 10 percent of U.S. broadband households are “likely to cancel their fixed broadband service” over the next 12 months, and use wireless or mobile data services as a replacement.

Some would argue that coming 5G networks could be a huge catalyst in that regard, dramatically changing the value-price relationship for mobile internet access in ways that make it a more direct substitute for fixed access.

So far, the cost of mobile internet access has been so much higher than the cost of fixed network internet access that mobile substitution has made sense in only limited circumstances.

Where mobile data might cost about $9 to $10 per gigabyte (GB) in the U.S. market, for example, fixed access might cost as little as 15 cents per GB. In other words, mobile data costs about an order of magnitude more, on a per-gigabyte basis, as does fixed network access.

But 5G could be a game changer, allowing mobile operators to credibly match fixed network access speeds and per-GB prices.

According to Chris Tolan, Magid’s senior analyst leading this research, “If 5G is able to deliver on its promise, it could be a real game changer for broadband service providers and the tech industry in general. Today’s consumers are showing dramatic willingness to consider alternatives in this space.”

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