Ciena study reveals demand for 5G is high, but broader understanding is required on the benefits of new wireless network technology

Only 19% of US business professionals claim to understand the benefits of 5G, according to a survey commissioned by Ciena (NYSE:CIEN), in partnership with research firm Dynata. The survey found that there is an opportunity for telcos and the wider industry to better educate consumers on the full benefits that 5G can deliver, with:

  • 41% of working professionals saying they only know a little bit about the benefits of 5G
  • 32% of working professionals stating they have heard of 5G, but don’t understand what it is
  • 8% of working professionals never having heard of 5G

Today, the main benefit that US professionals associate with 5G is ‘faster access speeds’, which was cited by 61% of respondents. By contrast, only 6% of respondents considered ‘reduced latency (lag)’ to be a major benefit. Furthermore, only 18% of respondents said that they consider ‘more reliable connectivity’ to be a major benefit; and only 16% recognized ‘better wireless coverage’ as a major benefit. This illustrates a significant knowledge gap relating to 5G, both in terms of what it can deliver, and the terminology used to communicate the benefits.

Steve Alexander, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at Ciena, said: “5G is much more than just a faster wireless technology. 5G enables constant connectivity for people, machines and devices and is the infrastructure that the Internet of Things will rely on to create the cloud experience that we all need in our increasingly digital world. Yet, most professionals surveyed admit they don’t completely understand the broader benefits of 5G.”

“Fortunately, the data also highlighted the demand for 5G services, which could be leveraged – and indeed, driven – by providers effectively communicating the benefits and delivering the services users want, both humans and machines.”

Despite the knowledge gap, there is significant demand for 5G, with 26% of respondents claiming to have a 5G smartphone and cellular plan already, and 19% planning to upgrade this year. This means, by the end of the year, 45% of US professionals are likely to be using a 5G-enabled device and on a 5G data plan. Moreover, 33% of respondents said they would be willing to pay more than their existing contract to get 5G, an encouraging revenue generating opportunity for service providers.

However, there remains a sizeable 39% of US working professionals who say they have no plans to get a 5G data plan at all – perhaps a consequence of the large percentage that remain unaware of the true benefits.  Despite this, there is a broader recognition that 5G has ‘game-changing’ potential. When asked about the wider socio-economic impacts of 5G:

  • 76% of respondents said that they think 5G will help more people access digital content at home and close the digital divide.
  • Healthcare was ranked as the top industry (followed by gaming) that professionals were most excited to see leverage 5G (other industries they were asked about included education, government, automotive, retail, utilities, manufacturing).

Alexander at Ciena concluded: “People understand 5G will have an impact for closing the digital divide and providing a boost to major industries across the US. However, alongside delivering the scalable, intelligent, and adaptive infrastructures necessary to enable 5G, service providers and their trusted technology partners like Ciena must take steps to help close the knowledge gap.”

Notes To Editors
The survey was carried out by Dynata on behalf of Ciena, from April 13-23, 2021, and included a representative sample of 1908 business professionals across the United States.

About Ciena
Ciena (NYSE: CIEN) is a global leader in networking systems, services, and software. We build the most adaptive networks in the industry, enabling customers to anticipate and meet ever-increasing digital demands. For three-plus decades, Ciena has brought our humanity to our relentless pursuit of innovation. Prioritizing collaborative relationships with our customers, partners, and communities, we create flexible, open, and sustainable networks that better serve all users—today and into the future. For updates on Ciena, follow us on LinkedInTwitter, the Ciena Insights blog, or visit

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