A reliable, widespread 5G network could increase annual business revenues by up to £15.7bn by 2025, with manufacturing one of four sectors set to reap the greatest potential return, according to a new study.
Digital connectivity in the form of 5G is promising a lot; faster speeds, reduced latency, better reliability of connections and the opportunity to connect many more devices to the internet.
Britain’s manufacturing sector could see a revenue growth of £2bn by 2025 if 5G is rolled out successfully, a new report from Barclays revealed today.
But despite the potential economic benefits—of the more than 500 British businesses surveyed—just four-in-ten (39%) business leaders say they know how their business can make the most of 5G.
Furthermore, only 15% of businesses are actively thinking about how they can harness the new technology.
This is perhaps not surprising as 5G is still a burgeoning technology with only a handful of testbeds scattered across the country, and concerns surrounding the impacts of cyber security on networks mounting.
Earlier this year, cyber security worries were cemented by the World Economic Forum (WEF), who listed it as a chief issue for firms across the globe in the year ahead.
Sectors set to see the highest revenue growth are:
- Distribution (£3.6bn)
- Manufacturing (£2bn)
- Professional services (£1.1bn)
- Business services (£1bn)
And.. potential regional revenue growth?
- London (£4.1bn increased business revenue)
- The South East (£2.5bn)
- The North West (£1.4bn)
- East of England (£1.3bn)
- South West of England (£1.1bn)
Big rewards for a 5G network
5G can enhance manufacturing operations by accelerating data rates by up to 20-times current 4G speeds, and enable simultaneous connections for one million devices per square kilometre, according to Barclays.
For businesses, this means more extensive machine-to-machine communications and better overall infrastructure.
The report – 5G: A Transformative Technology – analyses a series of potential scenarios that UK businesses 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, the UK will see a £15.7bn increase in business revenue over the next six years.
A slower-than-anticipated rollout and limited use would deliver around £8.3bn of added revenue to the UK, while the current pace of development would add £13bn.
Connectivity in more rural areas is an issues
The research also revealed that the majority of businesses (58%) are already benefiting from fast communications technology like 4G and ultrafast broadband.
However, for industries like manufacturing, large factories are often located outside small towns or in more rural areas where connectivity has historically (and is) a struggle. How can it be ensured that 5G is rolled out effectively across all regions?
Case study: 5G Ruralfirst testbed in Somerset
The South West Dairy Development Centre is using sensors, IoT and automation, and will use 5G to develop techniques that are set to improve productivity in dairy farming across the UK.
The £1.3m, 180-cow unit forms part of the Agricultural Engineering Precision Innovation (Agri-EPI Centre) project, an initiative funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) via Innovate UK.
Duncan Forbes, Agri-EPI Centre project manager sat down with The Manufacturer at the site, he said, “At the moment, all of the data from these sensors has to go into a system/pc onsite here before it can go into the cloud. 5G will allow this to be remote, the data could go straight from the sensor to your smart device.”
“The next generation of mobile signals is very different to the current generation, one of the things it could do, is make the deployment of this technology, sensors, automation and so on, much faster.”
He adds, “As I understand, 5G will require fewer masts but it will have much better coverage. One of our use cases is the Afimilk sensor on the cow’s collar, which could transmit all of the data about that cow, her activity and milk production in real-time straight to your phone.”