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5G could provide £6.3 billion boost to UK manufacturing

Vodafone urges the UK government to make it easier for manufacturers to invest in private 5G networks

The adoption of 5G could add as much as £6.3 billion annually to the value of the UK manufacturing industry by 2030.

That's according to a new report by Vodafone and WPI Economics, which studied the benefits 5G could deliver in “left behind” areas of the country: the North West, North East, East and West Midlands, and Wales. These regions rely strongly on manufacturing and have seen slower growth rates over recent decades than London and the South East.

5G could help factories make better decisions and maximise productivity by facilitating the management and sharing of large quantities of data, according to the report.

The technology could also power augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), which in turn can be used to visualise and plan designs in detail prior to the construction of physical prototypes. The 5G-enabled increase in productivity would result in a manufacturing GVA of £3.6 billion per year by 2025, and £6.3 billion per year in 2030. However, this is only if at least 91% of manufacturers get to have access to 5G in their operations.

This is why Vodafone is calling for the UK government to invest in the creation of 5G test and innovation centres, as well as make it easier for manufacturers to invest in private 5G networks.

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Vodafone’s business director, Anne Sheehan, said that 5G “offers huge potential for the manufacturing sector and beyond”.

“To realise this potential, we need to all get behind it, from Government and Ofcom creating the right policy and regulatory environment, through to businesses embracing the power of innovation, and of course us as network operators creating this network of the future,” she added.

Commenting on Vodafone’s report, Digital Infrastructure minister Matt Warman said: "The benefits of 5G for improving productivity, efficiency and safety in our manufacturing sector and beyond are clear, and Vodafone’s report is a ringing endorsement of how this revolutionary technology can help us build back better from the pandemic.

"5G can change the way Britain builds and we’ve sparked a wave of innovation in UK manufacturing through our £200 million 5G trials scheme. We’ve seen driverless vehicles at Nissan’s Sunderland plant, VR at BAM Nutall building sites in Scotland and Vodafone boosting laser-welding robots in Essex,” he said.

Earlier this year, Warman also unveiled a £28 million investment in nine nationwide projects that will trial innovative uses of 5G networks, including 5G-powered cargo ports, as well as improving visitor experiences at the O2 Arena, MK Dons stadium, and the Eden Project.

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