Will 5G really save us £6bn?

Will 5G really save us £6bn a year?

According to a new report from O2, cities across the UK could be set to save £6bn each year if they upgrade their infrastructure to make the most of 5G connectivity.

The report, titled The value of 5G for cities and communities, launched last month and detailed how the arrival of 5G will transform how we interact with the world around us.

Of all the ingredients that keep our economy and society moving, arguably top of the list is mobile. Our report demonstrates how 5G technology, when it arrives, will provide unprecedented benefits for consumers, councils and cities alike. The enhanced connectivity on offer will make a real difference to people’s lives and pockets.

- Mark Evans - CEO, Telefonica UK

Currently, most UK mobile networks provide users with 4G connectivity, which offers download speeds of up to 12 Mbps. However, 5G – which is set to arrive in the UK by 2020 – boasts maximum speeds up to 1,000 times faster. And according to O2’s report, this staggering new technology could translate into big savings for the UK.

Apparently, households could be set to save up to £450 a year as 5G-enabled smart grids offer better energy prices and smart appliances cut down on household waste. Additionally, the report predicts that car owners will enjoy further savings when 5G connectivity facilitates energy grids capable of mass-charging electric vehicles.

For councils, 5G could provide cost-efficient smart refuse collection, slash the costs of social care via remote monitoring and facilitate smart lighting schemes that cut down on energy bills. In fact, the report predicts that local authorities could share up to £2.8 billion in savings.

Meanwhile, 5G is set to transform healthcare, with telehealth video conferencing and remote monitoring helping to cut down on the amount of patients attending GP appointments and occupying hospital beds. By opening up a means of virtual communication with healthcare professionals, experts hope that 5G will boost productivity and increase available funds for the ailing NHS – to a sum of more than £1.7 billion.

According to the report, further savings could be made in the field of transport, where 5G-enabled smart infrastructure could bring in savings of around £440 million. Additionally, O2 predicts that 5G-enhanced road and rail travel will help cut journey times and reduce congestion in heavily populated areas.

But despite all these incredible claims, O2 has warned that the UK’s cities will need an overhaul if they are to benefit from the savings promised by 5G.

While 5G promises a range of unprecedented benefits, we should be clear that these won’t be achieved by without collective investment and collaboration. That means complete alignment from operators, public service providers, local authorities, landlords and technology companies to explore new opportunities for better connectivity and denser coverage.

- Derek McManus - Chief Operating Officer, O2

At a launch event last month, representatives from O2 called on the UK to ensure that cities are properly equipped to reap the financial benefits of 5G when it arrives on our shores. But while the government has already invested some £25 million in testbeds across the country, will it be enough to keep the UK at the forefront of this emerging technology?


Suzi Marsh is a freelance writer and blogger based in South West England.
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