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O2 Claims Mobile Protected £205bn of UK Business During Lockdown

Tuesday, September 15th, 2020 (12:01 am) - Score 963
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A new O2 commissioned survey of 1,000 adults has claimed that 20% of UK business – reflecting £205bn of economic output – was safeguarded by the power of mobile connectivity during the COVID-19 lockdown between March and September 2020, which it did by enabling many people to work flexibly and remain productive at home.

Gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to have fallen across the UK by a record 20.4% between April to June. Without mobile connectivity, the research suggests many more people and businesses “would have been unable to connect to their workplaces or customers“, adding further pressure to the furlough scheme and on GDP and sharpening the country’s economic downturn.

Sadly, the survey doesn’t explain precisely how this result was achieved or clarify whether or not it was predominantly a facet of voice calls or data (mobile broadband) connectivity. On top of that it’s unclear if they’ve weighted this against the use of home broadband connectivity (inc. WiFi) and any directly associated use of VoIP and video conferencing platforms (Skype, Zoom etc.).

Instead we’re told that the 20.4% figure is based on an estimate of the UK workforce, including the proportion of employees who needed to work from home during the pandemic, and estimates of the contribution to employee productivity from connectivity based on findings from previous studies undertaken by Development Economics for clients such as O2 and other technology-focused businesses. A bit more detail would have helped.

Just to be clear, we have no doubt that 4G and 5G mobile connectivity helped in many different respects during the lockdown, although O2’s press release seems to forget that most people have home broadband connections too and those may have removed some of the impact where mobile connectivity is now laying claim. Equally modern features, like WiFi Calling at home, add an extra layer of complication.

Mark Evans, CEO at O2, said:

“We can be under no illusion that the pandemic has challenged our nation. But we can be sure that without the great power of connectivity, things would have been exponentially worse.

As the UK’s No1 network, we’re proud to see mobile playing an important role in supporting the UK’s businesses and the wider economy.

Now, we need to work together, with businesses and the government, to ensure that connectivity stays at the heart of UK PLC. It’s the key to our country’s success and will unlock further growth.”

O2 also notes that during lockdown they saw voice traffic increase by nearly 60% at peak times with call times lasting 40% longer – an increase comparable to nine years of typical growth.

Top 10 uses of mobile connectivity during lockdown by O2
1. Calling family members and friends
2. Keeping up to date with the latest news
3. Playing games
4. Online TV/movie streaming
5. Contact a doctor
6. Working
7. Virtual Quiz Nights
8. Expressing solidarity with causes around the world e.g. Black Lives Matter protests
9. Online fitness classes
10. Enrolled in an online course

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