Key takeaways

  • By 2030, 5G technology is predicted to add as much as US$1.3trillion to global GDP.
  • Healthcare, smart utilities and consumer media are likely to make up the majority of this growth.
  • Businesses will need a strategic approach, and good use-cases, to capitalise on the technology’s potential.

By 2030, The efficiency and productivity bought by 5G could add as much as US$1.3tn to global GDP. That’s the finding of PwC’s study The global economic impact of 5G, which uses economic modelling and expert insight to look at the use-cases for the technology in a variety of industries. 

The majority of this figure, at more than 80 percent, is projected to lie in healthcare applications (US$530bn), smart utilities management (US$330bn) and consumer and media applications (US$254bn). For business, particularly in these industries, it’s time to pay attention and develop strategies that harness the technology to create competitive advantage and implement and integrate imperatives that must be met for it to generate value.

Where the value lies

New levels of connectivity and collaboration enabled by 5G will amplify and deepen the insight that organisations can gain from connected technologies. Able to see, attempt and achieve more, new opportunities for growth will open up something especially important as organisations rethink and reconfigure business in a post-pandemic world. While it’s predicted that 5G’s contribution to economic growth will be modest over the next five years as the infrastructure it requires is rolled out, from 2025 we expect to see investments will have an increasingly energising effect on the global economy.

5G report exhibit 1

5G boost to global GDP by industry by 2030 (US$, 2019 values)

 

North America will likely experience the biggest percentage uplift to GDP from 5G ($US484bn) followed by Asia and Oceania, and then Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

5G report exhibit 2

5G’s projected economic impact by country by 2030 (US$, 2019 values)

 

Here are some of the industry use-cases that might eventuate:

Healthcare

Technology, including 5G, will allow for a new, connected healthcare ecosystem where patient and provider needs are met accurately, conveniently, cost-effectively and at mass scale.

  • Telemedicine took the world by storm during COVID-19, and 5G promises to make the experience even better with real-time interactions, and remote monitoring of data through wearables and cloud analytics/processing. Net contribution to global GDP by 2030: US$123.5bn
  • Fewer and shorter hospital stays will be enabled by improved and continuous communication between doctors and patients inside and outside hospitals. Net contribution to global GDP by 2030: US$161bn
  • Streamlined doctor-patient interactions via mobile health platforms will allow sharing of information between patients and doctors, and between health systems. Net contribution to global GDP by 2030: US$89.5bn
  • Drones will come to the fore with 5G, allowing medical equipment (for example, defibrillators) and therapies (medicines, vaccines, blood or tissue samples) to arrive at patients or to and from laboratories far faster than by road. Net contribution to global GDP by 2030: US$155bn

Smart utilities

As the global utilities industry enters a period of sweeping energy transition, 5G will help achieve goals and maintain market competitiveness. 

  • Enhanced smart meters and smart grids will enable providers to give customers better oversight of their energy use, leading to energy savings and better, quicker decisions. Net contribution to global GDP by 2030: US$209bn
  • Better waste management and reduced solid waste will be possible via applications such as ‘pay-as-you-throw’ tracking where customers are charged for solid waste disposal with the aim of reducing volume. Analytics and sensors will similarly help local authorities and businesses to manage waste. Net contribution to global GDP by 2030: US$82bn
  • Water management via sensors that can track leakage will allow water networks to cut water loss and manage resources more efficiently. Net contribution to global GDP by 2030: US$39bn

Consumer and media

The pandemic accelerated shifts in consumer behaviour, with customers flocking to over-the-top (OTT) gaming, media and music services for entertainment during isolation and went online for grocery buying. 

  • Real-time marketing and customer relations will get a sophistication boost with 5G handset consumer adoption. With automation and analytics, companies will be able to analyse customer data and tweak subsequent campaigns in real or near-real time. Net contribution to global GDP by 2030: US$221bn
  • Online gaming and OTT media will thrive as processing power moves to low-latency edge computing, allowing complete immersive experiences. AR/VR and hi-def video streaming will converge to provide esports and gaming with added power. Net contribution to global GDP by 2030: US$33bn

Industrial manufacturing

A whole new world of manufacturing will be unleashed as 5G tech allows greater flexibility and responsiveness on the factory floor.

  • Autonomous robots and vehicles will use laser-based perception and AI to move through facilities without the need for fixed infrastructure. In addition to their safety and efficiency, they will also work with other tech, software and services as integrated inventory movement and robotics platforms, reducing the need for labour. Net contribution to global GDP by 2030: US$130bn

Financial Services

COVID-19 had substantial knock-on effects for the financial services industry such as an acceleration in the migration to digital channels. The bandwidth and connectivity of 5G will support a range of services such as AI-based advice and improvements in drone use for insurance purposes.

  • An improvement in customer experience is likely for banks when they are able to deploy AI-based financial advice to help customers with transactions. Smartphone data and technologies will also make it easier to market to or advise customers in the moments they most need help. Net contribution to global GDP by 2030: US$55bn
  • Reduced fraud risks will be facilitated by advances in security such as facial recognition verification at ATMs and customers no longer needing to use bank cards. Net contribution to global GDP by 2030: US$30bn

Reinventing the future

The potential for impact across all industries is enormous when it comes to the applications the 5G era will enable. For business, a strategic approach underpinned by clear use-cases will deliver the greatest value. For recommendations on what to include in such a strategy, download the full Global economic impact of 5G for further information.

As the 5G revolution creates new productive potential at the individual and global level, it’s time for business to seize the opportunity it offers to power tomorrow.

 

Wilson Chow

Contributor

Wilson Chow

Wilson is the China-Hong Kong Technology, Media and Telecommunications leader of PwC in China and Hong Kong.

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