A report commissioned by Huawei Ireland has suggested that a lack of investment in 5G infrastructure would badly affect SMEs in the next decade.
A survey has suggested that a delay in the roll-out of 5G would lead to a slowdown in technological innovation and a reduction in economic growth in Ireland. By 2030, it claimed that this could amount to a GDP loss of €12.6bn.
The ‘5G Future SME Report’ by Amárach Research on behalf of Huawei Ireland was launched to see the role 5G may have in Ireland’s economic rebound after the Covid-19 pandemic. It also set out to explore how Irish SMEs view 5G in the context of its importance to future business growth.
Of more than 200 SMEs surveyed, almost half (48pc) expect 5G to be widely available in the country by the end of 2021. More than two-thirds (69pc) expect that national 5G investment will support the growth of indigenous Irish businesses, with 67pc stating 5G will help develop Irish start-ups and new businesses, and 64pc saying they believe 5G investment will be important to the recovery of the economy.
When asked where they think 5G will have significant impact, SMEs ranked smart energy grids first (69pc), followed by smart buildings (48pc), telehealth (48pc), AI (44pc), real-time translation (43pc) and virtual reality (36pc).
Nearly half (46pc) of the Irish SMEs surveyed have moved some or all of their business operations and services online because of the Covid-19 pandemic, with 93pc of these predicting they will keep some or all of their operations online after the pandemic has passed.
Commenting on the report, Huawei Ireland’s new CEO, Tony Yangxu, said: “With the challenges now facing the country, the digital economy is more central than ever to Ireland’s future rebound and recovery.
“A competitive market for 5G infrastructure will help maximise gains from tech innovation and ensure competitiveness and balanced regional development. We are fully committed to being part of the roll-out of 5G across Ireland, helping to create a world-leading digital infrastructure.”
In August, local authorities and Science Foundation Ireland’s Connect research centre published a discussion document that said the absence of a roadmap for national 5G connectivity risks eroding Ireland’s economic competitiveness. The document called for the establishment of a national working group to address this, drawing on findings from an online survey of telecoms vendors, mobile operators and local authority broadband officers.
One of the country’s largest network providers, Eir, recently said that 5G availability on its network had increased threefold since the service was launched last year.