New research from Barclays Corporate Banking shows that 5G could supercharge Scotland’s economy by up to £1.12bn per year by 2025 – but the opportunity could be missed because industry leaders still do not know enough about the benefits of investing in the technology.
The report 5G: A Transformative Technology analyses a series of potential scenarios that businesses across the UK could face when implementing 5G. Under an ‘optimistic scenario’, which anticipates an accelerated rollout of 5G and an enhanced uptake amongst UK businesses and consumers, Scotland will see a £1.12bn increase in business revenue by 2025.
A slower-than-anticipated rollout and limited use would deliver around £563m of added revenue to Scotland, while with the expected pace of development added revenue would reach £904m.
Meanwhile, under the optimistic scenario, the business areas set to see the largest revenue increases across the UK are distribution (£3.6bn), manufacturing (£2bn), professional services (£1.1bn) and business services (£1bn). The diverse range of sectors set to see a boost to revenue is a testament to the wide applications of 5G technology.
The optimistic scenario could be a reality for British businesses, as mobile providers are already beginning to introduce 5G capabilities on a large scale this year, with BT’s mobile network EE aiming for an Edinburgh launch later this year. The Government is also supporting 5G by incorporating it into its Industrial Strategy, having pledged £1bn towards digital infrastructure. The bidding process for 5G licences, meanwhile, opened to the telecoms industry last year.
The new Barclays research revealed that only 22% of businesses in Scotland are already benefitting from fast communications technology like 4G and ultrafast broadband. Meanwhile, 46% of businesses say they would benefit from such a network, but have had to work around having one. Here, 5G can play a role by providing access to ultrafast communications technology.
5G can further enhance these operations through benefits including peak data rates 20 times faster than 4G and simultaneous connections for one million devices per square kilometre. The extreme speed paves the way for innovations in artificial intelligence, robotics and large-scale Internet of Things (IoT) usage. For businesses, this means more extensive machine-to-machine communications, using self-driving vehicles and better overall infrastructure – amongst other new applications.
Despite the demand for current communications technologies and the potential applications for 5G, the Barclays survey found just 38% of business decision-makers in Scotland know how their business can make the most of 5G. When it comes to preparing for 5G, only 18% of Scottish businesses are actively considering how they will harness the new technology.
Jamie Grant, managing director of Barclays Corporate Banking Scotland comments: “The rollout of 5G offers a huge opportunity for Scotland. We are seeing massive potential for business growth, which ultimately delivers a positive knock-on effect for the whole region.
“While the UK and Scottish Governments and network providers are already working hard to introduce 5G in Scotland, we found that businesses do not yet have enough clarity about how they will benefit in the long run. To ensure Scotland can realise the full potential of an accelerated rollout, Government, mobile operators and other corporate partners – including financial institutions – have a job to do in order to raise awareness amongst businesses so they can harness 5G.”
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