5G could add £15.7 billion to UK economy by 2024, says Barclays

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5G could add as much as £15.7 billion (18.4 billion) per year to the UK economy by 2024, according to a new report, but only if it's rolled out and adopted fast enough.

Barclays Corporate Banking says the figure relates to an ‘optimistic scenario’ where 5G roll-out is fast and quickly adopted by business and consumers. The research also states that a slower roll-out and limited usage would only add just over half of this figure at £8.3 billion (9.7 billion). The current pace of activity would bring in about £13 billion (15.2 billion), the report finds. 

According to Barclays’ analysis, an accelerated roll-out would encourage regional growth, providing opportunities outside of London and the South East.

Sectors forecast to see the largest revenue increases are distribution (£3.6 billion/4.2 billion), manufacturing (£2 billion/2.3 billion), professional services (£1.1billion/1.3 billion) and business services (£1 billion/1.2 billion).

Businesses unprepared for 5G

However, the report also clearly states that the majority of UK businesses are not ready for 5G.

A Barclays survey of 526 UK businesses found that  40% of decision-makers expect 5G to increase their revenue over the next five years. Despite this, just four in ten (39%) know how their business can optimise 5G, and only 15% are thinking about how to harness the new technology.

The sectors most likely to have plans for 5G are media and communications (23%), logistics (18%) and hospitality and leisure (17%).

Knock-on effect

Sean Duffy, Head of Technology, Media and Telecoms at Barclays Corporate Banking, said, “The roll-out of 5G offers a huge opportunity for the UK. We’re seeing massive potential for business growth, which ultimately delivers a positive knock-on effect for the whole economy. 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 ten business leaders still aren’t entirely sure what 5G is.

“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. This support is crucial for businesses to make smart investments which will unlock the power of 5G.”