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Consumers are excited about 5G connectivity. Less so about escalating privacy concerns

December 17, 2019 | By Rande Price, Research Director – DCN @Randeloo

Perhaps the word of the year for 2019 should be “connectivity.” According to Deloitte’s new report, 2019 Connectivity and Mobile Trends (CMT), the average household now has 11 connected devices, with seven different smart screens to view content. Smart home devices are also popular with more than a quarter of U.S. households (28%). Consumers are using connected thermostats, security, lights, and other connected products.

Consumers are also enthusiastic about 5th generation wireless networks (5G) and the promise of higher performance, greater reliability, and more cost-effective usage. Awareness is quite high with close to two-thirds of consumers reporting that they are familiar with 5G wireless networks. In fact, 28% of consumers say they are “very likely” to buy a compatible smartphone when the service is available in their area.

According to Deloitte’s findings, both Gen Z and Millennials plan to use 5G for its promise of speed and bandwidth for gaming and entertainment services like augmented reality and virtual reality (AR and VR). These services require high-speed, low-latency connections. Further, mobile gaming will also see a surge in usage. Nearly half of both Gen Z and Millennials familiar with 5G (49%), report that they will play more mobile video games using 5G connectivity.

Data collection

With consumers more connected than ever before, they are also more aware of the realities of the data economy including the collection of their personal data. Nearly three-quarters of consumers (72%) agree that they are more aware of how their data is collected and used than a year ago. Connected devices are a way of life. So too is the exchange of personal data for free digital services.

It appears that over half of consumers (52%), agree that the value they derive from digital services overrides their privacy and security. It’s important to note, this study did not differentiate between the data collection of publishers compared to social platforms or between first-party or third-party in its line of questioning.

Vulnerability is key here. More than half of consumers (58%) are “very” or “extremely” concerned about the privacy of their smartphone data, and 59% feel similar about its security. Consumers are also concerned about the privacy and security of smart phone speakers (73%) and about the privacy of home automation devices (72%). Importantly, 90% of consumers report that they should be able to see and delete data that companies collect about them. Further, 84% state that they want to be paid by companies that profit from their data.

Data protection

Consumers see platform and online services that collect their data as “most responsible” for protecting it (35%). This is followed by consumers themselves (26%), and the government (15%). Nearly two-thirds of consumers (61%) report that platforms and online services are making it harder for them to understand how their data is being used. A full 56% also state that they have less trust in these companies than they did a year ago. Interestingly, most consumers (84%) agree that the government should do more to regulate the way companies can collect and use data.

Consumers clearly welcome better connectivity and improved service performances. However, this comes with heightened awareness and concerns over their data privacy. While they value the online services they use, consumers want more control and transparency on the data collection, usage and a share in its monetization.

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