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Press Release -- March 1st, 2024
Source: Vodafone Group

5GSA could deliver billions in productivity savings for UK businesses, report finds

5G Standalone (5GSA) has the potential to deliver up to £8.6bn (c. €10bn) a year in productivity savings for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK, according to a new report from WPI Strategy and Vodafone UK.

There are more than 5.6 million SMEs operating in the UK today, accounting for 99.9% of private sector businesses. Often pillars of local communities, SMEs play a vital role in driving job creation, innovation, and economic growth.

5GSA, which features an upgraded core as well as antennas, can help businesses across sectors transform their operations through new low-latency applications.

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In farming, for example, new figures in the report suggest that 5GSA-connected systems – such as IoT sensors monitoring soil quality, weather and equipment – could help save the average farmworker in the UK up to three working weeks a year. That’s an estimated collected saving of nearly 40 million working hours, delivering around £112m (c. €130m) in annual productivity savings across the sector.

Similarly, for the 2 million-plus workers in the UK retail sector, 5GSA enabled technologies – such as IoT stock maintenance systems that remove the need for manual checks – could save around 45 million working hours a year.

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But 5GSA roll-out in the UK is far behind where it needs to be for these potential benefits to become reality. To turn things around, the telecoms industry needs more support from government and regulators to create a pro-investment environment for mobile network infrastructure – similar to the efforts made so far for full-fibre broadband.

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Michelle Donelan MP, UK Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology said: “As this report rightly recognises, there is huge potential for businesses across the economy to benefit from advances in technology like 5G. This was a major theme of our Wireless Infrastructure Strategy published last year.

“As this report shows, the UK is one of the best places for small businesses to use technology to grow, and we want to use 5G connectivity as a springboard for that.”

Vodafone has pledged to invest £11bn (c. €13bn) to bring 5GSA coverage to 99% of the UK population by 2034, should the proposed merger between its UK business and Three UK be approved.

You can download the full report here [PDF]

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