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Vodafone Say 5G to Boost UK Economy by £158bn Over 10 Years

Monday, June 29th, 2020 (2:05 pm) - Score 2,236
5g mobile broadband users uk

Vodafone has published a new report from WPI Economics, which perhaps predictably forecasts that the cumulative gains of UK businesses moving from 4G to 5G (mobile broadband) could produce an economic boost of more than £38bn by 2025, plus £120bn between 2025 to 2030 (total productivity-based boost of £158bn).

This report outlines examples of where the benefits of 5G are already being realised and sets out some of its potential future uses. For example, it predicts that 5G will help hospital surgeons work with more precision than ever, while people in remote communities will have access to the kind of care that would once have required hours of travel.

Likewise it claims that teachers in schools “will be able to share rich virtual experiences with their classes and children will be able to explore the solar system, the human body and the ocean floor like never before.” On top of that there are mentions of how 5G could “revolutionise traffic and congestion management“, such as by reducing delays and allowing quicker access for emergency services.

However, the report warns that these benefits are “not guaranteed” and, if the UK is to become a global leader in 5G, it states that more still needs to be done. “The key to unlocking the UK’s potential to become a global digital leader is investment in 5G supported by full fibre,” says the report, albeit without highlighting how much of a role that full fibre aspect plays in their economic prediction.

Equally, reading between the lines, the report may also be hinting at the potentially negative impact (as perceived by Vodafone) from the Government’s expected decision to ban Huawei from future 5G networks in the UK.

Report Summary

To unleash the full economic potential of 5G, Government needs to help create the policy, procurement and investment environment that will support these ambitions. This includes Government leading the way by committing to a ‘smart by default’ procurement strategy and removing barriers to 5G rollout in order to create the right investment climate.

The Government has previously committed to rolling out full fibre and gigabit capable broadband to every home and business across the UK by 2025 and for the majority of the population to be covered by a 5G signal by 2027, and the recently-signed Shared Rural Network deal has an important part to play in filling coverage gaps in the more remote rural areas.

But the Government should go further and adapt its current 5G strategy to create the conditions and support that could enable the rollout of 5G to the majority of the population by 2025.

You’ll have to forgive this author for opting not to delve too much further into Vodafone’s full report, since a mobile operator singing the praises of a new mobile network technology – one that they are already in the process of deploying – is a bit like a dentist telling you that teeth are good. Predictable and thus, dare I say it, just a little bit boring. We’ve had enough 5G hype over the past few years to last a lifetime.

All of this is before we even get into that endlessly tedious debate about the inherently difficult task of accurately attaching a positive economic impact to faster broadband speeds (mobile or otherwise), lower latency and greater reliability (example), particularly given that existing 4G networks can already do a lot of what 5G is often hyped up to deliver. Likewise a lot of the benefits highlighted could also just as easily come from fixed broadband lines.

None of this is to say that 5G won’t deliver various big improvements, it absolutely will, but it’s still more of an evolutionary than revolutionary technology and much will still depend upon how much spectrum Ofcom releases. Meanwhile reports predicting an economic boost are, as the Americans would say, “a dime a dozen“, while reports examining what kind of actual improvement was ultimately delivered are somewhat less common for mobile technologies. Take with a pinch of salt.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
8 Responses
  1. Tim says:

    Just getting on with rolling out 4G+/LTE-A would go a long way to improving things now without the need of new phones!

    1. Lexx says:

      Yep 4G+/LTE-A is more important as current phones can use it now

      If upgrading the mast to 5G also gets the 4G upgraded to 4G+ then that’s fine as well (ee and especially 3 need to get 4G+ rolled out as at times 3 is not really usable)

      Vodafone seems very aggressive moving to 4G+ with overlapping coverage (phone norm sees 4-5+ neighbours)

      don’t know about O2 as using giffgaff and generally get forced onto 4g800 (unless that’s all they use) and traffic shaped to hell (speed test 20mb+ as its been whitelisted, youtube under 1-3mb/s)

  2. Buggerlugz says:

    I agree with Mark.

    OFCOM are the biggest problem in all this. Unless the regulator releases broader spectrums in larger more affordable groupings all the investment in the world won’t provide the scope required to deliver anything viable.

    1. Sharon White says:

      also the Council Planning permission are the biggest problem in all this too – Too much red tapes on Masts height, design, location, and policies!

      Business Rates too.

  3. LBB says:

    Has anyone got experience of running their household or business purely over 5G?
    Particularly over a GigaCube type of device with Ethernet wired computers etc.

    Would be interesting to know a real world experience of this, best speeds, average speeds, perceived reliability, any slowdowns, ping issues. Can you watch Netflix(etc) without buffering?

    As the article says, 5G is mainly hype, it is extremely welcoming yes, but is it good enough as a landline replacement?

    FTTC (40/10) is around £23/mth and VF charge £50/mth for unlimited 5G.

    Perhaps only worth considering if you are stuck in a not-spot or have a caravan etc

    1. Gary says:

      I’d imagine ‘not spots’ would generally be more viable for a single tall 4G mast than multiple 5G ones to cover the same area. Yes the speed wouldn’t be as good, but 500m range for 5G is frankly laughable when discussing connectivity in rural areas.

      To realistically power the number of 5g masts required and cover dispersed populations you’d be wanting to have the 5g Kit on a power pole connected to the grid, anything else requires a massive amount of civils work running power cables to the mast location, they may be able to do without a direct data connection to each tower but we wont be using RF to power them all.

    2. Gary says:

      Sorry, Not 5G but our Internet is now 4G only, from a very unreliable 1.2M openreach adsl line to a 30 to 90M 4G dream.

      Ping a shade worse say 10 to 15ms up from the adsl Speed well even at its worst its not been less than 20x better. We’ve had one outage in a year when there was a problem at the cell tower, but that’s it.

      Re buffering, nope never had an issue with that at all when streaming, also bear in mind there was no point subscribing to a streaming TV service pre 4G So thats been great too.

      If you were in an area with heavy loading on the mast then likely your experience would be different.

      If you cant tell I’m a big fan, from being in the bottom 0.5% of the UK speeds according to the TBB stats to streaming HD and downloading game patches in hours rather than days.

  4. Mark says:

    @Gary. I suspect 5G won’t be that prevalent in Rural areas for years if at all, that’s where a lot of objectors live and are concerned about the health issues, may Rural areas are also AONB so tall masts are a non starter, they even rejected an 8 metre telegraph pole mast here, on grounds of being ” out of character with the ANOB”.

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