PwC report tips 5G to fuel a $1.3trn boost for global economy

22 Mar 2021

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The firm’s report said that Ireland’s 5G roll-outs are largely in line with what’s happening internationally.

Roll-outs of 5G are expected to give the global economy a boost of $1.3trn by 2030, according to a new report from PwC.

The next generation of mobile networks has been much hyped and debated over the last several years, with advocates claiming it will help usher in the fourth industrial revolution.

PwC’s report said that the roll-out of 5G in Ireland is in line with roll-outs internationally and will be faster than 4G launches in the past, given the growing demand for this technology.

Amy Ball, a partner at PwC Ireland Advisory Consulting, said that 5G is about more than faster speeds and that paired with artificial intelligence and the internet of things, it will show its true impact for both industry and consumers.

“5G promises to increase innovation, efficiency and productivity for businesses and governments,” Ball said.

“Key benefits also include reduced lag times with ultra-reliable communication, higher bandwidth and download speeds, with much improved streaming communications. 5G will result in new markets and new ways of working.”

PwC said that more than half of the global economic impact of 5G will be seen in the health and social care space by driving automation, improved communications and telemedicine services.

People in Ireland will have seen an increasing number of 5G devices on the market in the past year and network operators adjusting their services in response to increased remote working.

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“When 5G arrived in Ireland, the majority of users were using handsets that were 2G to 4G compliant. The proliferation of new devices with 5G connectivity during the pandemic has a knock on effect for workers and service providers,” Neil Redmond, director of PwC Ireland Advisory Consulting, said.

“For example, the new normal of working from home may see more remote workers exceed the average 9.2GB per month in Q2 2020 in download allowances. This may mean that operators have to adjust their service offerings to cater for users requiring higher monthly download limits than currently available.”

Challenges

Last year was tipped to be a major year for 5G, but the pandemic caused some delays with several European countries opting to postpone 5G spectrum auctions last spring and summer.

5G has also been fraught with political spats and concerns over security, most notably tensions between the US and Chinese telecommunications equipment maker Huawei.

The US, and specifically the Trump administration, accused the company of ties to the Chinese government and of carrying out espionage. It claimed that 5G networks built with Huawei equipment were a security risk.

Huawei has vociferously denied the allegations but they have had reverberations on the global launches of 5G. The UK gave Huawei the green light to be part of the country’s 5G infrastructure at the start of 2020, before taking a U-turn and ordering telecom operators to strip Huawei gear out of their networks in the coming years.

Other European nations have followed some similar tactics and the stymieing of Huawei, which is a major supplier, will have profound effects on the roll-outs of 5G according to many in the telecommunications industry.

The shape of regulation to come will dictate the future of 5G, namely the EU’s Network and Information Security (NIS) directive.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin

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