Video is the 5G "killer app" for both enterprise and consumers, survey shows

There are some obvious advantages to 5G connectivity, but enterprises have yet to fully grasp its potential, a Nokia survey suggests

What do we want from 5G? High-quality, uninterrupted video streams

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic made Zoom a household name, consumers and enterprises alike saw improved video capabilities as one of the most attractive applications they could take advantage of with 5G, according to newly-released surveys. A pair of reports, commissioned by Nokia, showed that 83 percent of businesses considered video a compelling 5G use case, while 90 percent of consumers rated high-quality, uninterrupted video streams as a "very valuable" aspect of 5G.

The surveys were conducted before the coronavirus became widespread. Now, as employees and students are compelled to work from home, "we're all seeing video is a very powerful tool," said Josh Aroner, VP of marketing for Nokia's CSP business. 

At the same time, the survey underscored that there's an opportunity for communications service providers to help the enterprise better understand the full potential of 5G. Nearly half (47 percent) of IT decision makers said their organizations have already started planning for 5G, and 65 percent said they are aware of 5G. However, 30 percent said  they would like to better understand the value of 5G before developing a strategy to use it in their organization.

"There are applications and use cases that you and I can't even imagine yet," Aroner said. CSPs, he said, can "step in and fill some of the gaps on the education side... in terms of the use cases they can bring to bear and the value -- which is more than just faster video or a faster network. What is it that can change, in terms of how they run their business or the types of applications they run?"

The enterprise survey, conducted in partnership with Parks Associates, polled more than 1,000 IT decision-makers in the US and the UK. Respondents came from key enterprise segments including energy, manufacturing, government/public safety, and automotive/transportation.

In addition to video, some other specific 5G use cases garner broad interest from the enterprise. More than half of respondents (55 percent) said immersive experiences (5G-enabled AR or VR) are appealing. Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, 52 percent  found 5G AR/VR for employee training appealing. About two-thirds (67 percent) of education respondents found the ability to provide access to interactive education experiences appealing.

Among companies already using connected equipment, 77 percent expressed interest in 5G-enabled remote control machinery. Among organizations that use vehicles, 74 percent found connected vehicles using 5G appealing. 

Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) was the top use case for small and medium-sized businesses. As many as 73 percent expressed a strong interest in FWA, if cost and performance could match their existing wired broadband service. In many locations, consumers and businesses have only one broadband provider to choose from, Aroner noted, making any kind of comparable alternative attractive. 

As many as 61 percent of business respondents said they would look to a mobile operator for direction when planning 5G services.