02 October, 2020

New 5G Survey: Europeans are positive, but disinformation looms and citizens call for action

Brussels, 2 October 2020 – Europeans are positive about 5G, they believe it will improve their user experience and intend to deploy it to empower their own business. However, there is evidence that disinformation is having some traction and that citizens are eager to see more, and better, communication on 5G from their governments. ETNO, Europe’s leading telecoms association, has unveiled today a new pan-European 5G sentiment survey by leading global market research consultant IPSOS. The survey is based on interviews with over 7.000 citizens across 23 European countries, including major markets such as Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK.

This comes just two weeks since the latest European Commission recommendation on 5G, which calls for Member States to step up their efforts to facilitate network roll-out.

5G roll-out: Europeans are aware and positive

IPSOS found that virtually all Europeans (96%) are aware of 5G, with 1 in 4 declaring that they know the technology “very well”. There are also major age differences, with younger generations (<34 y.o.) being more informed than older ones.

In terms of attitudes, 54% Europeans are “positive” about 5G, while 36% declare themselves “neutral”. Interviewees aged 18-34 are also significantly more positive about 5G compared to other generations. What is more, positive attitudes appear to correlate with better awareness and information.

Disinformation: gaining traction?

While the majority of Europeans is positive towards 5G, 10% of those interviewed hold a negative view on this technology. IPSOS also tested some “5G myths” and found that while a small minority believes in them, a substantial amount of Europeans isn’t sure that they are false either. For example, 21% of those interviewed believe it is true that “5G is harmless to bees”, with 63% being unsure what to make of the statement and only 16% believing it is false.

Governments – and telcos – are expected to speak up

IPSOS found that 1 in 3 respondents gets their 5G information from social media, but that the most trusted sources of information are technology websites, telecom companies and governments respectively. Social media and advertisement are the least trusted sources. What is more, only 8% of the respondents learned about 5G from government sources, with over 40% citizens saying they are “not satisfied” with government communication on 5G.

In addition, when measuring the impact of communication, IPSOS found that “government and telecom operators have the highest impact on attitude towards 5G”, signalling that both are expected to speak up more.

Businesses are eager to take up 5G

Europeans are also clear that they expect 5G to make a major difference for the economy, with 85% of those interviewed thinking that “5G is important for business”. What is more, among those interviewees who hold managerial responsibility in their big and small companies, 51% said they “intend to implement 5G” in their company.

Lise Fuhr, ETNO Director General, said: “This survey shows that Europeans are eagerly waiting for 5G. However, results also ring the alarm bell on disinformation and show a clear demand for trusted information. As we move to speed up roll-out, it’s important for public authorities to step up their support”.

Gerd Callewaert, Country Manager, IPSOS, said:The disinformation and the share of voice of a minority of 5G critics is a call for more fact based information from trusted sources, such as governments. The study shows a clear need to further argue for the advantages of 5G beyond simply ‘faster and better’ connectivity”.

*Join us on 13/10 for the 5G Users Forum dialogue series to discuss how 5G can empower smart manufacturing in Europe*

Media inquiries: Alessandro Gropelli, gropelli@etno.eu, 0032 476 941839

Alessandro Gropelli
Deputy Director General - Strategy & Communications

Alessandro Gropelli is Deputy Director General of ETNO, the European Telecoms Association, as well as a Board member and Treasurer of GeSI, the Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative. At ETNO, Ales

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gropelli@etno.eu +32 (0)476 94 18 39
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