5g network tower

5G could boost UK businesses by £15.7bn annually, Barclays estimates

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A report from banking firm Barclays has called for next-generation 5G networks to be rolled out faster in order to maximise the economic benefits of the technology.

When fully installed, 5G networks will deliver higher data rates, reduced latency, energy saving, cost reduction, higher system capacity and massive device connectivity.

Their research estimated that the UK would see a £15.7bn increase in business revenue by 2025, whereas a slower-than-anticipated rollout and limited use would only deliver around half of this amount (£8.3bn), while at the current pace of development added revenue would reach £13bn.

The businesses expected to benefit the most from 5G are those involved in distribution, with predicted revenue growth of £3.6bn, the report found. The next largest beneficiaries would be manufacturing (£2bn), professional services (£1.1bn) and business services (£1bn).

The majority of businesses (58 per cent) are already benefitting from fast communications technology such as 4G and ultrafast broadband, Barclays said. These allow companies to operate across disparate locations, communicate with customers and potential customers and connect multiple machines and devices.

However, the opportunities afforded by 5G could be scuppered because of a lack of knowledge among industry leaders about the benefits of investing, with only 39 per cent of business decision makers (out of a survey of 526) saying that they know how to make the most of 5G.

“While the Government and network providers are already working hard to introduce 5G in the UK, we found that businesses do not yet have enough clarity about how they will benefit in the long-run. What’s more, nearly four in 10 business leaders still aren’t entirely sure what 5G is,” said Sean Duffy, head of technology, media and telecoms (TMT) at Barclays, who produced the report.

London and the south-east could benefit most, with £4.1bn and £2.5bn respectively in increased business revenue, but the north-west, east of England, south-west and Scotland could also take in over £1bn each.

“To ensure the UK can realise the full potential of an accelerated rollout, the 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,” Duffy continued. “This support is crucial for businesses to make smart investments which will unlock the power of 5G.”

In February 2019, telecoms giant O2 confirmed that it will start rolling out its 5G network this year, beginning in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London, following fellow operators EE and Vodafone, who are already running trials of 5G networks in parts of the UK.

Also in February, cyber-security experts warned that 5G and IoT technology could increase the amount of data criminals could steal from consumers and businesses. 

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