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5G in the UK: An enabler for UK economic success

For the UK telecommunications industry, an additional contributor to the uncertainty of Brexit and the consumer impact of COVID-19 has been 5G deployment discussions. Below, we take a look at how 5G can push us beyond the uncertainty and become a cornerstone for both the UK’s economic recovery and post-Brexit development. Read on to find out how.

Head of Networks & Managed Services, Europe & Latin America

5G in the UK: An enabler for UK economic success

Head of Networks & Managed Services, Europe & Latin America

Head of Networks & Managed Services, Europe & Latin America

5G in the UK today

As one of the first countries to launch 5G last year, the UK is already in a good position to maximize 5G’s potential. But in comparison to other 5G frontrunners, it must improve if it wants to keep the pace, such as by adding more expansive coverage.

South Korea, for example, launched 5G networks just one month before the UK with the help of a new dedicated 5G spectrum creating a new user experience. Today, 98 percent of their 4G base stations have been upgraded to 5G. In the UK, it’s somewhere below 10 percent according to an ERT Report. As a result, South Korea now has more than 6 million 5G subscribers and is ready to address new 5G revenue streams.

In Europe, Switzerland is the most advanced in terms of 5G population coverage and uptake according to a report from Omdia. With Ericsson’s support, they now have 98 percent of the population covered with 5G. Spain is also setting high 5G standards with an ambition to have 75 percent coverage by the end of 2020. This comes after Telefonica Spain began their 5G roll-out with the help of Ericsson Spectrum Sharing while ramping up on new 5G spectrum coverage.

5G is critical for the UK’s economic recovery and success

5G as a cornerstone for digitalization in the UK means that 5G is critical for the UK’s future digital success, and in turn, the UK’s economic recovery. Fundamentally, it enables the UK to remain competitive in a post-Brexit world.

The pandemic has shown us how important digitalization is for our survival. We have seen that countries that invested in digitalization early coped much better during the lockdown. A great example is Estonia, where it’s been made possible to vote online since all citizens hold a digital ID linked to their bank account and the tax system. As a result, identifying those who were furloughed and getting benefits was fairly straightforward.

Lockdown has also sped up digitalization in the UK across sectors. For example, in only 3 months, the UK increased its e-commerce penetration as much as in the last 3 years. Even as lockdown eased, the trend remained strong.

But for the UK to become successful in a highly digitalized economy, high-speed, reliable and ubiquities connectivity are absolutely crucial.

5G is the answer, enabling gigabit connectivity wherever we are. A big part of the reasoning for this is the digital divide between rural and urban communities. For example, 5G fixed wireless access can enable enterprises and homeowners based outside of cities to close the widening digital gap between rural and urban communities. 5G fixed wireless access also delivers high-speed connectivity and is faster to deploy than fiber. Without 5G, the Government Building Digital UK ambition would be very difficult to achieve. 

5G is key for Industry 4.0 in the UK

To ensure Industry 4.0 in the UK is capable of delivering on its promise, we’ve created the UK Industrial 5G Accelerator program, together with Digital Catapult, to demonstrate 5G’s key role in industrial settings. So far, results have shown that by using 5G-enabled wireless robotics, factories can improve plant reconfigurations through the reduction of wiring, downtime and labor, bringing savings of 20 percent in facility management.

The benefits of 5G in manufacturing are far reaching and significant for the UK economy, as well as its society and service providers. Acting now to secure nation-wide coverage will lead to a digital and more secure future for the UK.

5G solutions for UK success

Here at Ericsson, we are ready to support the UK’s 5G ambition with a fast and cost-efficient delivery. Our technology is not only the first to innovate the world with 5G, but is also currently powering the 5G frontrunners across the world—and the UK is no exception.

As truly global technology leaders, Ericsson has the capacity to deliver large volumes. In fact, we’ve exceeded 100 5G commercial agreements with unique communication service providers, bringing the current total to 109 contracts with 61 live networks globally. In the US and China, for example, in just one quarter, we delivered and deployed more 5G sites than what is needed for all 4 UK operators combined.

5G networks have already been launched in collaboration with UK operators with Ericsson technology powering Vodafone’s 5G network in London—a partnership that was recently recognized by Umlaut as the best performing 5G network in the capital.

We have also increased our R&D spend to build our high-performing networking solutions, and look to compliment them with additional virtual radio access network solutions in the near future. As Ericsson celebrates 120 years of game-changing innovation in the UK, it’s fitting that the robustness and performance of these networks have been proven as a critical national infrastructure during the global pandemic.

The time to accelerate is now. Find out how with Ericsson and Ericsson 5G.

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