Understanding consumer ICT behaviors and attitudes due to the COVID-19 crisis4 min read . Updated: 14 Jul 2020, 12:20 PM IST
- The increased reliance on resilient connectivity for work, entertainment and education has meant that ICT spending is still prioritized by consumers to prepare for future crises.
An Ericsson Consumer and Industry Lab Study carried out during the Covid period has revealed that COVID-19 has had a huge effect on consumers’ daily lives, leading them to rethink the future. But the resilience of ICT has helped consumers navigate the crisis and ease the burden of working and studying remotely, as well as staying in touch with family and friends.
With more and more activities being carried out online, and greater numbers of hours spent connected to both fixed and mobile broadband, the internet has become a fundamental part of daily life, as critical as access to food and electricity. The fastest-growing mobile app categories during the COVID-19 period have been those related to the crisis, remote working, education/e-learning and wellness. These trends are a sign of consumers adapting to the new normal, and are unlikely to slow with the easing of the pandemic – 6 in 10 US workers are expecting to switch to video-based conferences after the crisis, and the same number believe online healthcare consultations will become more popular than physical visits to the doctor. These trends are based not only on consumer opinion on their changing usage, but also on concrete findings gathered using anonymous, crowdsourced, on-device data.
Increased mobile broadband consumption
Multitasking between devices and networks while staying at home, for everything from work to socializing, caused the amount of data consumed on smartphones to increase. Globally, consumers claim a 25 percent average increase in smartphone data usage. The average time spent connected to fixed broadband rose by 2.2 hours per day, while those connected to 4G networks saw an average increase of 1 hour a day. In markets like India where 4 in 10 relied primarily on 4G networks to keep them connected, this increase was twice as much per day on cellular networks.
ICT resilience has helped consumers navigate the crisis. Of those aged 60+ and highly impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, 74 percent agree reliable video calling helped them stay in touch with family and friends during the crisis. Three in four parents say that ICT is helping to continue children’s education from home. Consumers see telecom operators as more trusted entities than internet tech giants in using mobility data for the “common good".
The role of 5G in the crisis
With 74 percent saying that mobile networks were performing better or the same than pre-crisis, it is safe to say that despite all odds they have managed to meet consumer expectations. And additional capacity offered by 5G in the future will further help. Our study found 63 percent to be positive towards the role 5G would play during such a crisis due to even higher speeds. Consumers recognize that 5G – via either fixed wireless access or enhanced mobile broadband – can enable them to benefit from improved speeds to meet their remote working needs.
The increased reliance on resilient connectivity for work, entertainment and education has meant that ICT spending is still prioritized by consumers to prepare for future crises. Around 2 in 5 consumers in India and 1 in 5 in US and Spain say they will upgrade to 5G handsets to better prepare for the next waves of such a crisis.
An equal share of users in these markets also plan to invest in reliable home broadband connectivity to better prepare for the next wave of the pandemic. While uncertainty looms on how long the current crisis will last, connectivity remains a priority for consumers.
Five predictions for a post-COVID-19 world
So what will the future look like? Consumers name a wide array of different activities as important, from quality of video calls with family and friends, to access to work documents in the cloud. Changes in behavior will most likely transcend into the future, with our study highlighting five consumer predictions for a post-COVID-19 world:
3 in 4 value network resilience and say internet connectivity is not only most critical during this crisis but also future crises.
55 percent believe automated delivery drones or fleets of driverless cars might replace delivery people as demand for contact-free interactions increases.
6 in 10 working people believe working remotely will be the new normal and expect employers to encourage remote working as a fundamental business practice when the COVID-19 pandemic has passed.
6 times more consumers in the US are expected to use real-time online health consultations versus during 2019.
Virtual experience economy
7 in 10 VR users think that, with more time spent online, virtual symbols will drive status rather than physical ownership of goods, while social VR will help ease isolation. Half of consumers might turn to AI-powered online virtual companions to entertain, educate and befriend them during isolation.
Now more people feel that they can work from home in a successful way, and employers see that productivity is not largely affected by this remote working. Five years ago, remote working on this scale generally seemed unfeasible. Today, our working routines represent a huge shift that has taken place, both in terms of technology and consumer maturity.
Today 55 percent of mobile subscriptions globally are running on 4G/LTE as per the Ericsson Mobility Report. For me, this is just the tip of the iceberg as far as leveraging the full value of mobile technologies is concerned. Just like 4G/LTE is the workhorse and innovation platform for countless consumer smartphone services, the 5G platform is capable of delivering user experiences and efficiency for both consumers and demanding enterprises.
In extraordinary times like these, the value of mobile connectivity is more apparent than ever before: Mobile connectivity does much more than help support our current living standards – it also provides a stable and reliable platform for economic growth.
This article has been written by Nitin Bansal, Head of Network Solutions (South east Asia, Oceania and India), Ericsson.