The crucial role of advanced wireless to boost connectivity and productivity in the UK
At techUK, we recognise that 5G and other advanced wireless technologies have a big role to play towards driving further connectivity to the whole of the UK. Indeed, in recent years, there has been significant progress, in both mobile and fixed connectivity, and the UK government has set an ambition to be a world leader in the next generation of mobile technology. This includes the objective for nationwide coverage of standalone 5G to all populated areas by 2030.
For the economy, 5G can boost productivity and efficiency across industries. PwC estimated that 5G technology will add £43bn to the UK GDP by 2030. It can facilitate the development of smart cities, enhances manufacturing processes through automation and IoT (Internet of Things) integration, and supports the growth of emerging technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality. Towards greater productivity, this fosters job creation, increased innovation, and a more competitive business landscape.
For UK society, 5G is already enhancing communication and connectivity. It can enable faster and more reliable internet access, benefiting individuals, businesses, and public services. Enhanced connectivity is improving healthcare services through telemedicine, supporting advanced manufacturing, and contributing to smarter transportation systems.
The versatility of 5G opens up a myriad of use cases across key sectors and industries. Some key examples of the vital role 5G plays across the UK economy and society include:
Enabling the development of Autonomous Vehicles
5G enables real-time communication between vehicles, traffic infrastructure, and central systems. This is crucial for the development and operation of autonomous vehicles, enhancing safety and efficiency on the roads.
For instance, autonomous vehicles generate and process massive amounts of data from sensors, cameras, and other sources. 5G's high bandwidth capabilities ensure efficient and fast data transfer between the vehicle and centralized processing systems, supporting complex decision-making algorithms.
The integration of 5G technology with autonomous vehicles not only enhances safety and efficiency but also opens up possibilities for new transportation models, such as autonomous ride-sharing and delivery services. It's a key enabler for the widespread adoption and successful operation of autonomous vehicles in the future.
Facilitating the creation of Smarter Cities
5G facilitates the creation of smart cities by enabling connected infrastructure, such as smart grids, intelligent transportation systems, and efficient public services. This can lead to improved energy management, reduced congestion, and enhanced urban living.
Smart cities use 5G for intelligent transportation solutions, such as traffic management, autonomous vehicles, and real-time navigation. This can lead to reduced traffic congestion, improved public transportation, and a more sustainable urban mobility ecosystem. Indeed, 5G plays a pivotal role in the evolution of smart cities by providing the connectivity and technological infrastructure necessary for the implementation of innovative and interconnected urban solutions.
Improving provision and access to healthcare
In healthcare, 5G supports telemedicine services, allowing for high-quality video consultations, remote patient monitoring, and quick transfer of large medical data sets. This can improve access to healthcare services, especially in remote areas.
Recognised within the UK government's Wireless Infrastructure Strategy, the NHS can leverage 5G to access and update electronic health records more efficiently. This contributes to streamlined workflows, reduces administrative burdens, and enhances overall patient care coordination.
Facilitating quicker communication for Emergency Services
5G enables faster and more reliable communication for emergency services. This includes real-time video streaming, location tracking, and improved coordination during critical situations.
In emergency situations, 5G facilitates quick communication and coordination among healthcare professionals. Real-time sharing of patient data, video consultations, and efficient resource allocation contribute to more effective emergency response and disaster medicine.
Boosting productivity in manufacturing
Manufacturing processes benefit from advanced connectivity through improved automation, remote monitoring, and predictive maintenance. This leads to increased efficiency, reduced downtime, and overall enhanced productivity.
With 5G, manufacturers can remotely monitor and control machinery and equipment. This is especially beneficial for operations in remote locations or for overseeing multiple facilities from a centralized control centre. Indeed, it is a key enabler of the smart manufacturing revolution, bringing about increased automation, connectivity, and data-driven decision-making. Advanced wireless further supports the implementation of digital twin technology, where a virtual replica of physical equipment or processes is created. This allows for in-depth monitoring, analysis, and simulation, leading to more informed decision-making and optimization of manufacturing operations.
These use cases showcase the transformative potential of 5G across a wide range of industries, paving the way for a more connected and technologically advanced future. However, the UK government must continue to address potential barriers to further roll out of 5G and full fibre connectivity. It is essential to address challenges such as infrastructure deployment and security concerns.
At techUK, we call for the next government to work with the telecoms sector to devise a new strategy that includes targets to encourage the widespread adoption of standalone 5G across businesses. Indeed, a new future network strategy could help 1 million people back into the labour market and add £159 billion to the economy by 2035 through the widespread uptake of 5G, and by using satellite and drone technology to help rural and hard-to-reach communities get connected.
techUK's new Telecoms Infrastructure Working Group will continue to address this, looking at the progress that still needs to be made from the Wireless Infrastructure Strategy, the Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review, and the collaboration needed with local authorities to drive forward the adoption of 5G and full fibre connectivity.
Written by Mia Haffety, Programme Manager - Telecoms and Net Zero. Contact [email protected]
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