A report commissioned by Ericsson and Qualcomm suggests 5G will deliver almost £15 billion in economic growth across three key industries.
Over three-quarters of UK economic growth is expected to come from the manufacturing, agriculture, and construction industries. Applied to these industries, the report forecasts 5G will create an additional £14.8 billion in economic growth.
John Griffin, Head of Ericsson UK and Ireland, says:
”This new research shows that 5G technology will be a foundation for the UK’s future as it recovers from COVID-19 and builds a world-leading digital economy.
As an open innovation platform, 5G will accelerate digital transformation and help the UK establish a truly global leadership position in the industries and technologies of the future.
Ericsson is already leading the deployment of 5G in the UK and is committed to developing the early use cases that will deliver the economic, social, and environmental returns to build a sustainable and resilient infrastructure for future generations.”
Broken down by industry, the report expects 5G will deliver £5.2 billion for manufacturing, £4.2 billion for construction, and £2.2 billion for agriculture.
The economic benefits will come from innovations which will be enabled or improved through 5G deployments including:
- Connected sensors will enable real-time monitoring of factories, crops, and construction sites.
- Autonomous and remote-controlled vehicles.
- Augmented reality to improve productivity and training.
- Collaborative robotics for things such as repairs and surveilling construction sites for safety issues.
Worcester Bosch opened the UK’s first 5G smart factory earlier this year in collaboration with BT and Ericsson. The factory demonstrates some early possibilities including sensors to reduce downtime and improve safety.
Carl Arntzen, CEO of Worcester Bosch, said at the time:
“We have learnt an awful lot within the W5G Testbed, both about the 5G network itself, but most importantly about the skills and competencies we need in-house, and what data to stream in order to develop a real-time understanding of the behaviour of various machines.
We are very eager to continue this learning and are confident we can travel much further on this journey, deliver the productivity gains we predicted, and go much further in developing the smart factory of the future.”
As companies begin recovering from the pandemic, the UK government is advocating to ’build back greener’ and have sustainability in mind. It’s hoped that 5G will help to reduce waste and inefficiencies while enabling things such as lower-carbon farming.
However, Ericsson and Qualcomm warn in their report that the UK risks falling behind without policy interventions. Despite being an early leader in launching 5G networks, population coverage is now around the average in Europe.
Some of the policy recommendations:
- Making a concerted effort to increase the uptake of 5G in the aforementioned industries expected to see the most significant benefits.
- Extend 5G coverage into more rural areas.
- Encourage operators to deploy high-density networks for increased capacity in urban applications like construction.
A full copy of Ericsson and Qualcomm’s report can be found here (PDF)
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