5G boost would supercharge Brexit Britain to top of European business league table

Britain could become one of the most attractive places in Europe for SMEs if the government boosts investment in 5G technology, according to a new report.

The UK is already fifth in Europe but could leap to second place if the rollout of the superfast telecommunications technology is accelerated.

Without significant investment Britain risks slipping behind European rivals, the Vodafone report warns.

The comprehensive study – “Supercharging Small Businesses” – models the competitiveness of 17 European countries for small businesses to grow using 5G – the much faster successor to 4G.

Currently the UK is on course to be the 5th most attractive place in Europe, trailing only Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and the Netherlands. 

However, the UK could leapfrog all its rivals into 2nd place – behind Denmark – if 5G networks can be ramped up.

The report says 5G has the potential to deliver vast economic savings to small businesses, which they can reinvest for their long-term growth.

It also highlights how an accelerated standalone 5G  and new 5G mobile networks provide enough capacity and speed to allow organisations to benefit from AI technologies – boosting productivity among SMEs by as much as £8.6 billion every year.

The technology could also save 37.7 million working hours per year across the sector, while saving small businesses in the retail industry £1.85 billion per year.

Michelle Donelan, Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, said: “As this report rightly recognises, there is huge potential for businesses across the economy to benefit from advances in technology like 5G. 

“The UK is one of the best places for small businesses to use technology to grow, and we want to use 5G connectivity as a springboard for that.”

Emma Jones, CEO of Enterprise Nation, said: “It is essential that the UK seizes the opportunity to improve 5G networks to create a first-class environment for SMEs to grow and scale. Enhancing our digital infrastructure can create critical competitive advantages and productivity savings for SMEs, ensuring that the UK stays ahead of the regional competition.”

Tina McKenzie, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Policy,  said: “Strong and reliable mobile connectivity is essential for small businesses to thrive and grow. Yet, we often hear that unreliable mobile connectivity remains a big obstacle for small firms and the self-employed, and is particularly disrupting for productivity in rural areas.”

“As technology develops, the need for a decent connection is even more vital. Rolling out standalone 5G to all areas of the country quickly and efficiently will help small firms stay at the forefront of technological innovation, improving work rate as well as ensuring the UK remains a great place to start and run a business.”

Nick Gliddon, Director, Vodafone Business UK said:  “UK SMEs are already some of the most advanced in Europe at integrating digital tools into their businesses and we’d hate to see them get left behind by not having adequate access to best-in class connectivity such as standalone 5G. 

“That’s why we are excited by the further opportunities our merger with Three UK can unlock for this crucial sector of the UK economy, which would allow us to roll out a national standalone 5G network, at pace, to help SMEs across the country take advantage of leading 5G enabled technologies such as AI and IoT to help boost their efficiency, productivity and most importantly, growth.”

SOURCE

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