Used in combination with investments in artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT), 5G can be used as a platform to enable business and society to realise the full benefits of emerging technology advances.
More than a faster version of mobile connectivity on 4G, 5G's speed, reliability, reduced energy usage and massive connectivity will be transformative for businesses and wider society, enabling ubiquitous access to super-fast broadband.
This is one of the key take-aways in the latest analysis by PwC on the economic impact of new and existing uses of 5G in utilities, health and social care, consumer, media and financial services. The analysis predicts that productivity and efficiency gains enabled by 5G’s application will drive business and service change worth US$1.3 trillion to global GDP by 2030.
Entitled “Powering Your Tomorrow”, the analysis covers eight markets, including Australia, China, Germany, India, Japan, South Korea, the US and the UK.
Based on the study, the US (US$484bn), China (US$220bn) and Japan (US$76bn) will experience the largest uplift as a result of 5G technology applications, due to the size of their economies and strong modern industrial production sectors.
At a regional level Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) is expected to benefit the most from manufacturing applications of 5G, due to the size of the manufacturing sectors. It demonstrates the potential for regional competitive advantage through approaches to the adoption and regulation of the technology.
"These numbers quantify impact, but perhaps more important, our study reflects the value of 5G - new levels of connectivity and collaboration mean companies will be able to see, do and achieve more. It will open up new opportunities for growth and change as organisations rethink and reconfigure the way they operate in the post-pandemic world,” said Wilson Chow, Global Technology, Media and Telecommunications Industry Leader, PwC China.
He added: "With the pandemic accelerating digitalisation across all sectors, 5G will act as a further catalyst. It will emerge in this decade as a fundamental piece of our societal infrastructure and as a platform for driving the competitiveness of national economies, new business models, skills and industries."
Indeed, economic gains are projected across all economies assessed in the study, as 5G offers the potential to rethink business models, skills, products and services, with the gains accelerating beginning in 2025 as 5G-enabled applications become more widespread
Expect transformation of health and social care
According to the PwC study, more than 50% the global economic impact – estimated at US$530bn – will be driven by the transformation of health and social care experience for patients, providers and medical staff within the next 10 years.
While the acceleration of telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic provided a glimpse of the future of healthcare, remote care is just one area in which 5G can enable both better health outcomes and cost savings.
5G's applications include remote monitoring and consultations, real time in-hospital data sharing, improved doctor-patient communications and automation in hospitals to reduce healthcare costs.
Regional and sector impact
The study also shows that at a sector level, impacts of 5G deployment vary for individual economies.
The US and Australia are projected to gain the most from financial services applications: India from smart utilities; China and Germany in manufacturing. Other industries analysed in the study show the significant potential of new and existing applications over the next decade, driving changes in skills, jobs, consumer products and regulation:
- SMART utilities management applications will support environmental targets to reduce carbon and waste through enabling combined smart meters and grids to deliver energy savings, and improving waste and water management through tracking of waste and water leakage (US$330bn).
- Consumer and media applications include: over the top (OTT) gaming, real time advertising and customer services (US$254bn)
- Manufacturing and heavy industry applications include: monitoring and reducing defects, increased autonomous vehicle use (US$134bn)
- Financial services applications including reducing fraud and improving customer experiences (US$86bn)
Chow pointed out that 5G is more than mobile connectivity as it puts a new lens on advancing productivity and rethinking entire business models for the future.
“Given the scale of potential and its impacts, every organisation will need a plan for 5G's implementation within five years across technology and business strategies to maximise opportunities and prepare for how they integrate their technology and business strategies, and engage with customers, supply chain and regulators,” he said.
Policy and trust
Meanwhile, the study highlights that the reach of 5G's technology potential will require businesses and government to consider new approaches to regulatory and consumer engagement - focusing on how the technology is used.
Chow said as with any technology, policy engagement, transparency and public trust are critical factors.
“Whether it's considering the use of self-driving vehicles or telemedicine, how data is managed, infrastructure deployed, or how different sectors collaborate, business and government need to shit from focusing on regulating a technology, to promoting transparency in 5G's application, building and sustaining public trust in its use and potential."