A report from O2 predicts that the economic benefits of 5G will outstrip those of fibre broadband by 2026. It’s claimed that 5G will contribute £7billion a year to the economy six years after its expected rollout.
But O2 has repeated its call for Ofcom to shackle BT and Vodafone in the forthcoming spectrum auctions, claiming that ‘only these measures will allow the industry to successfully evolve towards 5G setting the foundation for a prosperous digital future that benefits all consumers, businesses and ultimately UK plc.’
The report, Tech-onomy: Measuring the Impact of 5G on the Nation’s Economic Growth quantifies the significant role 5G can play in securing the UK’s future as a leading digital economy, more so than fixed-line internet. It reveals the forecast social and economic benefits of 5G connectivity and identifies key barriers to Britain capitalising on its potential.
With the Government’s Industrial Strategy citing 5G as a route to future growth post-Brexit, the report comes as regulator Ofcom continues its consultation on the spectrum auction expected for later this year.
O2’s report claims that national 5G infrastructure will overtake fibre broadband to contribute £7b a year to the UK economy by 2026, with an additional £3b a year through secondary supply chain impacts. It states that the 5G network will introduce entirely new industries, platforms and services such as 3D video calls and smart home and health applications, but also emphasises the continuing importance of 4G.
But O2 argues that the mobile spectrum auction for the 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz bands must not only prevent BT/EE from bidding on 2.3Ghz band, but must also prevent Vodafone from taking more than half of this frequency. O2 adds to calls for a cap on overall spectrum ownership of 35%, saying ‘Only these measures will allow the industry to successfully evolve towards 5G setting the foundation for a prosperous digital future that benefits all consumers, businesses and ultimately UK plc.’
Mark Evans, CEO of O2 (pictured), said: ‘Mobile is the invisible infrastructure that can drive the economy of post-Brexit Britain. The future of 5G promises a much quicker return on investment than fibre broadband, and a range of unprecedented benefits: from telecare health applications to smarter cities to more seamless public services.’
‘For individuals, businesses and communities to use mobile connectivity to its full potential, we need to set the right conditions to ensure a competitive and fair mobile marketplace. We need a sophisticated spectrum auction that encourages the quickest and fairest deployment of mobile spectrum, with a regulatory environment that delivers a level playing field for businesses and supports a competitive market for customers.’
The research by independent research consultancy Development Economics drew on existing data, literature reviews and stakeholder interviews. Rollout timescales for fibre broadband were modelled on current BT Openreach rollout rates, and timescales for the rollout of 5G were modelled (perhaps optimistically, considering the costs involved) on rollout rates for UK 4G infrastructure.