16 March 2018
| James Pearce
UK cities could benefit from up to £6 billion of savings from 5G implementation, according to a report from O2, with the UK government announcing additional investments in telecoms infrastructure.
Launching the report at an event in London, Mark Evans
– the CEO of Telefonica UK – claimed the
benefits of 5G would offer "unprecedented benefits" for
businesses and consumers, but called on the government to
improve collaboration with the industry.
Evans said: "Of all the ingredients that keep our economy
and society moving, arguably top of the list is mobile. Our
report demonstrates how 5G technology, when it arrives, will
provide unprecedented benefits for consumers, councils and
cities alike. The enhanced connectivity on offer will make a
real difference to people’s lives and
"However none of these benefits are assured. We need a high
level of collaboration to press ahead with the rollout and to
hardwire 5G into the fabric of our cities."
O2’s report predicts significant benefits from
5G, including up to £450 savings a year for the average
household, made through savings to energy bills, council tax
bills, and reduction in food waste.
Local councils will also share in the annual savings, with
the potential to find efficiencies up to £2.8 billion
collectively, the report claims. These could include an
£890 million reduction in social care costs for those
living alone like the elderly, facilitated by 5G telehealth and
monitoring. The introduction of smart refuse collection could
save up to £1.8 billion a year, it adds.
O2’s "The value of 5G for cities and
communities" report also claims transport infrastructure in
cities can benefit from 5G by reducing commuting time. For
example, placing 5G sensors on railway lines could help reclaim
an estimated £440 million in lost productivity for the UK
economy whilst also saving travel times for commuters that
could be worth up to 2.6 hours a year.
Derek McManus, O2’s Chief Operating Officer
said: "There are more mobile connections in Britain than there
are people and the demand for mobile frequency and easier
access is only increasing. It’s clear from our
report that 5G technology will play a vital role in ensuring
that all citizens get the mobile service they
"But while 5G promises a range of unprecedented benefits, we
should be clear that these won’t be achieved
without collective investment and collaboration. That means
complete alignment from operators, public service providers,
local authorities, landlords and technology companies to
explore new opportunities for better connectivity and denser
O2’s report was released during a week where
there was a number of key developments in the UK telecoms
space, most notably around future networks and deployments.
Ofcom unveiled the date for the next 5G spectrum auction
– beginning next week.
It also unveiled six projects which will receive a share of
a £25 million pot of public money made available for
testing 5G applications. The UK government announced the
funding last year as part of its Digital Strategy.
Projects identified for funding include a rural coverage and
dynamic spectrum testbed, which is being led by Cisco and was
granted £4.3 million; a smart tourism project in Bath and
Bristol which was given £5 million; and a connected and
autonomous vehicles project, led by Airspan , which was given
Margot James, Minister for Digital and the Creative
Industries said: "We want the UK to be a world leader in 5G,
and this report highlights the huge potential we have to get
ahead and reap the benefits of this exciting new
"We're already investing £25 million in new testbeds
across the UK that will pave the way for our 5G future and our
work with industry will be vital to help us achieve our
The UK government also announced a new voucher schemed aimed
at increasing fibre penetration. £67 million has been
made available to be converted into vouchers that are designed
to help with the costs of connecting to 'full
The Nationwide Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS) will
provide vouchers worth up to £3000 for a small or medium
sized business or £500 to residents to help with the
costs of connecting to full fibre broadband. It makes up part
of a wider scheme which has seen more than £200 million
invested into full fibre networks. The government has said it
aims to make full fibre available to at least 10 million homes
and businesses by 2022.
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond said:
"We’re backing Britain’s small
businesses by investing £67 million to bring full-fibre
broadband to more businesses up and down the country.
"This means faster, more reliable broadband access as we
build the digital infrastructure we need to make our economy
fit for the future."