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Vodafone Claims 5G May Boost UK Economy by £7bn Per Year

Wednesday, June 29th, 2022 (1:02 pm) - Score 1,248
5g and mast uk tower microwave mmwave

Mobile operator Vodafone UK has today published a new Digital Ambition 2030 study, which among other things claims that investment in 5G could be worth up to £7bn per year to the UK economy by 2030 and that failing to attract such investment may “undermine” the Levelling Up agenda, with “towns and smaller cities having the most to lose“.

The report (PDF) itself is just 20 pages long and reads more like a simplified executive summary, which offers a very high level view of how 5G might help to boost different parts of the country. But it doesn’t really explain any of its workings or methodology in enough detail for it to be helpful.

Vodafone also focuses on the benefits of deploying the next generation of 5G Standalone (5G SA) networks (improvements to latency and upload speeds etc.), rather than today’s non-standalone 5G that overlays equipment on existing 4G infrastructure. But the economic benefits of this are vaguely highlighted as coming from areas like manufacturing (IoT devices in smart factories), transport (autonomous vehicles), energy (better monitoring and control of energy use) and so forth.

Overall, the study identifies 58 local authority areas which would see a high or very high benefit from a good investment environment for 5G – and which could fall further behind if investment continues to be limited to major cities. These are in every region of the UK except London, and include County Durham, Swansea, Midlothian, North East Somerset, Pendle and Sheffield.

One key factor in all this is the pace of rollout, which differs between local authorities. Vodafone claims their analysis shows that the difference between a good investment environment for full 5G (i.e. a fast rollout, supported by local authorities) and a poor one is worth as much as £2.6 billion per year by 2025 and £7 billion per year by 2030 in terms of economic out


The report then makes a series of recommendations to support investment in full 5G across the UK. Naturally, Vodafone has a vested interest in all this, although some of the points they make below are entirely fair ones.

Key Recommendations

· The Government should publish an updated 5G strategy which sets out specific ambitions for the rollout of full 5G networks, underpinned by policy and regulatory reform that would enable these ambitions to be met

· Government should use its procuring power to create market demand in 5G related services. For example, the installation of smart energy management systems in all public buildings would reduce emissions in those buildings, expand interest in, and the market for, these systems elsewhere, and save money on energy bills

· Planning rules need to be set in such a way that they do not stop 5G infrastructure from being rolled out where it is needed and wanted

· The business rates system needs to avoid deterring investment in high-value infrastructure

· Net neutrality regulations should enable mobile operators to offer innovative new products and services to customers and meet increasing demands on the network, making use of the full technological capabilities of 5G

· The approach to spectrum fees needs to change so that the money can be reinvested in network deployment

Ahmed Essam, CEO of Vodafone UK, said:

“5G technology enables both massive innovation and huge gains in productivity, especially for industrial uses such as smart factories, and public services such as hospitals which will require ultra-reliable and ultra-low-latency communications. But the benefits of this will not be felt equally across the UK in the current regulatory and policy environment – we have to ensure the UK can attract investment in future technologies.

5G rollout could be a major boost to the Levelling Up agenda. But it could also leave some places falling further behind. It all depends on getting the investment environment right. As our research reveals, there is a £7bn per year difference between getting this wrong and getting this right. We want to see the whole of the UK – and in particular our smaller towns and cities – enjoying the incredible benefits that the 5G revolution can deliver.”

However, trying to accurately gauge the economic impact of deploying faster mobile networks is notoriously difficult, not least since most people and businesses won’t be starting from a point of zero connectivity (e.g. 4G is already widely available and can deliver a lot of the same benefits that this report attributes purely to 5G).

In short, any study that claims to show a huge economic boost should be taken with a pinch of salt, as they’re often overly optimistic and few forecasts are ever tested at a later date to see if they were accurate – partly because it’s so hard to do. Nevertheless, few could disagree that faster and better mobile coverage are generally good things for the economy.

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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. El Guapo says:

    cool. maybe they should try installing some.

  2. Freddie says:

    “Vodafone also focuses on the benefits of deploying the next generation of 5G Standalone (5G SA) networks (improvements to latency and upload speeds etc.)”

    I couldn’t help laughing when I read that. They couldn’t even maintain low latency for their fibre broadband customers, it’s all gone to pot! It will probably be 500ms or more on 5G! Have a look at various forums, they are having some huge network issues at the moment that they don’t care about!

  3. Ad47uk says:

    The bit of 5G we have here is not great by all accounts and even in larger cities where 5G is more widespread i have heard people say it is total and complete rubbish, and they have to switch to 4G to get a decent signal. 5G may be fine out in the open, but get between some buildings or inside and it fails.

    I am certainly in no rush to get a phone with 5G, I will keep my phone as long as I can and then look at options, but I like my phone as modern phones go, so when it goes belly up, if the same model is available I may go for another one.

  4. True Mobile Internet Speed says:

    Try boosting 4G first in my rural village your lucky if you 3Mbps

    1. Jimbo says:

      Just the same issue live the cv13 area.

      2100 MHz signal -115dB 2Mb
      800 MHz signal -90db 4Mb

      2G signal in my area is better than 4G!!

  5. Martin says:

    Is this a tactic to persuade notoriously slow councils to get a move on with planning permission?

  6. Gary H says:

    Aye 7 billion in pricier phones and phone contracts, other than that I dont see how 5G creates wealth.

  7. Elixier22 says:

    Hilarious! How did Vodafone conclude that when their 5G is slower than their 4? Also Vodafone should be looking at their customer service which is pretty much non-existent second only to three

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