Delay to UK's 5G roll-out puts at risk Government's 'levelling up' agenda

2020.10.28
  • More than £100bn of economic benefit and 350,000 potential new jobs outside London and South East may not be fully realised over the next decade
  • Any delay to 5G roll-out increases the risk of widening the digital divide – potentially condemning parts of Britain to the slow lane for years to come
  • A delay to 5G roll-out threatens to deepen Britain’s jobs divide and disrupt plans to 'level up'

London, UK – 28 October 2020 The Government’s own acknowledgement of a likely delay in rolling out 5G in the UK risks not fully realising £108 billion worth of economic benefit and the creation of 350,000 jobs in regions outside London and the South-East over the next decade.

A delay in Britain realising its full 5G potential could condemn some parts of the country to the digital slow lane for years to come, according to an independent report by Assembly published today.

The new report, commissioned by Huawei, lays bare the opportunities for levelling up. If 5G were delivered nationwide without delay, three-quarters of its expected economic benefit would likely come in regions outside London and the South-East with the potential to transform connectivity in areas such as the North-East, the North-West and the West Midlands.

Risk to UK jobs and a widening of the digital divide

As a global leader in 5G, the UK could stand to benefit from more than 600,000 potential new jobs over the next decade, bringing with it the value of more than £6,000 per household on average by 2030. Critically, the jobs at risk are not limited to the tech sector or confined to tech hubs but spread across white-collar and blue-collar workforces.

  • In the North-West, the region risks not fully realising an economic uplift of £16.9 billion between 2020-2030 – and 59,000 new jobs
  • In London, the region risks not fully realising an economic uplift of £39.7 billion between 2020-2030 – and 139,000 new jobs
  • In the West Midlands, the region risks not fully realising an economic uplift of £13.0 billion between 2020-2030 – and 45,500 new jobs

Consumers could be left waiting

The UK mobile industry has already made significant progress in the roll-out of 5G, with more than 300 towns and cities already having some degree of coverage. However, a delayed roll-out would mean consumers across the country would have to wait longer to enjoy the full benefits of next-generation connectivity on their devices – such as virtual reality video streaming, gaming and the delivery of on-demand content.

Industries face losing out on 5G benefits

The report warns that a delay in 5G roll-out threatens to slow advances in everything from next-generation remote healthcare and smart manufacturing, to robotics and at-home schooling. Slowing down advances in high-quality remote learning and healthcare, are potential ‘social equalisers’ ­– helping to address GP or teacher shortages.

Advances in smart manufacturing and robotics would also be under threat. A recent 5G trial in Worcestershire registered a marked rise in productivity after exploring the use of 5G in machinery fault detection and remote training.

Matthew Howett, Principal Analyst and Founder of Assembly, said: "The Government’s own expectation of its restrictions on Huawei is for up to a 3 year delay in 5G roll-out. The risk of course is that this will be felt by operator’s being forced to focus their deployments in more profitable urban centres and that would inevitably mean it takes longer to reach, and fully cover, more rural and remote parts of Britain with 5G. If this plays out there is a risk of a widened digital divide."

Victor Zhang, Vice President of Huawei, said: UK government has set ambitious targets for improved connectivity by 2025. This research reveals how a 3-year delay in 5G roll-out will have a significant economic impact on every part of the UK, and highlights the consequences of failing to realise Britain’s full potential. Without global 5G leadership, Britain faces relegation to the digital slow lane, a job creation black hole and a wider digital divide.”


- Ends -

Note to Editors:                

A copy of the full report ‘Regional and consumer impact of a delayed 5G roll-out’ can be downloaded here. Supporting graphics are available here.

City level data at a glance

Greater Manchester Combined Authority

Potential 5G benefit 2020-2030 (£m): 6,435

Potential jobs created by 5G: 22,475

4G coverage: 99%

5G availability: EE, O2, Three, Vodafone

Birmingham

Potential 5G benefit 2020-2030 (£m): 2,603

Potential jobs created by 5G: 9,091

4G coverage: 98%

5G availability: EE, O2, Three, Vodafone

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority

Potential 5G benefit 2020-2030 (£m): 3,095

Potential jobs created by 5G: 10,810

4G coverage: 100%

5G availability: EE, O2, Three, Vodafone

Glasgow City Region

Potential 5G benefit 2020-2030 (£m): 3,966

Potential jobs created by 5G: 13,853

4G coverage: 86%

5G availability: EE, O2, Three, Vodafone

Newcastle

Potential 5G benefit 2020-2030 (£m): 806

Potential jobs created by 5G: 2,814

4G coverage: 100%

5G availability: EE, O2

Leeds

Potential 5G benefit 2020-2030 (£m): 2,349

Potential jobs created by 5G: 8,203

4G coverage: 97%

5G availability: EE, O2, Three, Vodafone

Edinburgh

Potential 5G benefit 2020-2030 (£m): 2,166

Potential jobs created by 5G: 7,564

4G coverage: 91%

5G availability: EE, O2, Vodafone

Cardiff

Potential 5G benefit 2020-2030 (£m): 1,058

Potential jobs created by 5G: 3,695

4G coverage: 96%

5G availability: EE, O2, Three, Vodafone

Bristol

Potential 5G benefit 2020-2030 (£m): 1,301

Potential jobs created by 5G: 4,542

4G coverage: 100%

5G availability: EE, O2, Three, Vodafone

Belfast City Region

Potential 5G benefit 2020-2030 (£m): 2,638

Potential jobs created by 5G: 9,214

4G coverage: 97%

5G availability: EE, O2, Vodafone

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About Assembly

Assembly is an independent analyst firm providing subscription-based information, analysis and commentary on regulatory, policy and legislative developments that affect communications markets and the wider digital economy.

For more information visit assemblyresearch.co.uk

About Huawei

Founded in 1987, Huawei is a leading global provider of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure and smart devices. We are committed to bringing digital to every person, home and organization for a fully connected, intelligent world. Huawei's end-to-end portfolio of products, solutions and services are both competitive and secure. Through open collaboration with ecosystem partners, we create lasting value for our customers, working to empower people, enrich home life, and inspire innovation in organizations of all shapes and sizes. At Huawei, innovation puts the customer first. We invest heavily in fundamental research, concentrating on technological breakthroughs that drive the world forward. We have nearly 194,000 employees, and we operate in more than 170 countries and regions, serving more than three billion people around the world. Founded in 1987, Huawei is a private company fully owned by its employees.

For more information, visit huawei.com/en