5G rollout can add £15 billion to UK if full potential is seized

14 January 2021 Consultancy.uk 3 min. read
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The UK’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 recession will depend heavily on innovation and the adoption of new technologies. As a result, from reducing industrial emissions to connecting remote areas through fixed wireless access broadband, Ericsson’s leading role in 5G deployment will serve as a key enabler of this transformation, according to a new report.

Despite conspiracy theorists routinely tying coronavirus to the installation of 5G internet apparatus, the pandemic has led to what could be a “significant delay” in the technology’s roll out. Even short-term delays in 5G could see operators having to reallocate some of the money earmarked for its roll out to other areas in the interim – further delaying its deployment.

However, this could be further stifling the economic recovery, as companies of all shapes and sizes are now relying on new technologies to boost their opportunities in the coming years. One recent study by STL Partners found 5G could be worth $1.5 trillion to the global economy by 2030, for example, with next generation networks stimulating growth and driving productivity at a time when countries are struggling with reduced activity due to the pandemic.

Total open innovation platform and clusters: 5G upgrade cost, benefit and CBR, UK

In the UK, Ericsson has played a leading role in combatting the slow-down in relation to 5G’s roll-out, prioritising its deployment at a crucial time for Britain’s economy. As Covid-19 has driven greater demand for connectivity and highlighted the need for infrastructure investment and wide scale digitalisation, the firm has collaborated with Qualcomm to commission a new report from Analysys Mason, in order to illustrate just how much the UK could benefit from an accelerated upgrade.

According to Analysys Mason’s modelling, as a total ‘open innovation platform’, 5G networks in the UK can deliver £14.8 billion in additional economic growth, at a cost of just £3 billion – equating to a cost-benefit ratio of 5.2 benefit to cost. In terms of which sectors of the economy will benefit most, the study suggests the Smart Production and Smart Urban clusters will enjoy the biggest boost against cost, at £4.1 billion and £4.5 billion respectively.

At the same time, agriculture could see a major boost from 5G – something which could come at a vital moment for the British market. With food shortages already being reported following the culmination of Brexit, UK farming needs to crank up its production in the coming period, and while it would see a cost of £0.6 billion, agriculture could enjoy £2.2 billion in benefits via the implementation of 5G.

Use cases: 5G upgrade cost, benefit and CBR, UK

In order to realise such potential, however, Analysys Mason suggests that the UK will need to drastically up its game. When it comes to existing 5G coverage, the UK lags behind global leaders in Asia and is in the middle of the pack compared to neighbouring European economies. While 30% of its population currently has access to 5G, a similar proportion to Germany and Sweden, the UK trails a number of other European nations, including the Netherlands, where 40% of the population has access, Finland where half of the population has it, and market leader Switzerland, where 90% can use 5G.

To rectify this, researchers suggest that the UK needs to do all it can to remove unnecessary barriers to the commercial deployment of 5G, and provide targeted public funding where it can truly make a difference. According to Analysys Mason, just £800 million in public funds could deliver economic benefits worth over £2.5 billion for example, if invested in innovative 5G use cases including fixed wireless access, smart automotive and healthcare.