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PwC Study Claims 5G Mobile May Add £43bn to UK GDP by 2030

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2021 (12:01 am) - Score 552
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New research from professional services firm PwC has forecast that the productivity and efficiency gains enabled by the rollout of ultrafast 5G (mobile broadband) technology will drive business, skills and service change worth £43bn to UK GDP by 2030. The healthcare sector is also expected to see the biggest impact from this.

According to the ‘Powering Your Tomorrow‘ report, which is a global study, the amount that 5G will add to GDP in the United Kingdom by 2030 per sector is as follows: Healthcare £15bn, Consumer and Media £9.4bn, Smart Utilities £9.4bn, Manufacturing £6.1bn, Financial services £3.1bn (TOTAL: £43bn).

NOTE: The UK figures have been converted from $ dollars using the average rate of the pound on the basis of historical exchange rates (over 2019) and does not entail any forecasts of future exchange rates trends.

The source of such productivity and efficiency improvements tends to vary. For example, in healthcare the main benefits are said to come from improved treatment resulting in fewer and shorter hospital stays, streamlined doctor–patient interactions, drone transported medical equipment and therapies, and finally, improved experience and efficacy of telemedicine.

Similarly, when looking at areas such as Smart Utilities, PwC sees gains to be had in terms of the use of smart meters, better waste management (plus less waste overall) and reduced water leakage etc. But the problem we have with a lot of these examples is that they don’t all strictly need a 5G based mobile or wireless network in order to be achieved.

Often existing WiFi, 2G and 4G networks, or even Long Range Wide Area Network (LoRaWAN) technologies, can achieve the same or similar results. Lest we also forget that most of these wireless networks will also be underpinned by “full fibre” infrastructure, which means it’s often not simply a case of one single technology being all things to all people.

Rolf Meakin, TMT partner at PwC, said:

“5G will have a profound effect on the UK economy in the second half of the decade and can play an important role in building back the economy after the coronavirus pandemic. The technology has significant potential to improve productivity and create new customer and employee experiences in combination with other emerging technologies including AI, virtual and augmented reality and edge computing.

Our report shows that all the sectors we looked at in the UK stand to benefit. The deployment of 5G infrastructure focussed on businesses and public sector employers should, therefore, be a high priority as an enabler of economic growth, competitiveness and regional levelling up. In the medium term, the use of 5G networks and applications can also contribute to the achievement of sustainability targets through enabling more efficient networks as well as more flexible ways of working and use of resources.”

We should point out that last year saw the publication of various other economic forecasts for 5G, which all made similarly bold claims about the economic benefits (here, here and here). Now we’re not disputing that 5G is a significant performance advance over past generations, but accurately assessing the positive economic impact of a faster mobile or broadband technology remains incredibly difficult (example).

The new technology is also dependent upon being fed with enough spectrum and fibre optic data capacity in order to realise its full potential, which will vary from place to place and is just as true of past mobile technologies. As such it may be better to view PwC’s report as being a best-case style scenario for adoption of 5G and supportive solutions, which may or may not fully come to pass.

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Mark Jackson
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.
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1 Response
  1. Avatar Buggerlugz says:

    Not unless they implement it correctly with enough back-haul, we all know that isn’t going to happen.

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