5G technology could boost Northern Ireland's economy by £283m

  • A new report reveals that the introduction of a 5G mobile network could increase business revenues.

    5G could boost Northern Ireland’s economy by up to £283m per year by 2025 according to new research from Barclays Corporate Banking.

    However, 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, Northern Ireland will see a £283m increase in business revenue by 2025.

    A slower-than-anticipated rollout and limited use would deliver around £141m of added revenue to Northern Ireland, while with the expected pace of development added revenue would reach £229m.

    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.

    In February, BT announced that Belfast will be among the first cities to get 5G coverage as part of a rollout that will involve 16 cities in the UK. It plans to roll the technology out to consumers through the EE mobile network.

    The UK 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 current state of (mobile) play
    According to recent CBI statistics, superfast coverage, based on a minimum 30Mbps download speed, presently stands at 88% in Northern Ireland. This is behind other regions in the UK: England has the highest superfast coverage (94%), followed by Wales (92%) and Scotland (91%). All regions fall short of the 95% coverage target set by UK Government.

    5G can further enhance business 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 33% of business decision makers in Northern Ireland know how their business s can make the most of 5G. When it comes to preparing for 5G, only 20% of Northern Ireland businesses are actively considering how they will harness the new technology.

    Source: Press release

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