5G rollout could create up to 3 million jobs and add $500 billion to GDP

21 August 2018 Consulting.us 3 min. read
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The blistering speed and expanded coverage of the nascent 5G wireless network is currently in development across the world. A recent report projects that the next generation wireless network's development could create 3 million jobs in the US and add half a billion to GDP (over and above wireless’ current economic contribution). 5G will also be necessary for full implementation of the Internet of Things, which will connect everything from industrial robots to home dishwashers.

According to management and tech consultancy Accenture, the US wireless industry already generates $475 billion in GDP, supports 4.7 million jobs, and creates $1 trillion in economic output. The underway rollout of 5G networks – which will boost coverage and data speeds, all while supporting the increasing amount of sensor-enabled and wireless-connected Internet of Things devices – will further increase the economic importance of the industry.

Wireless industry contribution to the US economy

A new report from Accenture projects that wireless providers will invest about $275 billion in US infrastructure over the next few years, creating 3 million jobs and boosting GDP by an extra half billion dollars. IoT, which has the potential to revolutionize and improve numerous industries from manufacturing to energy to transportation, will depend on robust and quick 5G networks. Accenture projects that industrial IoT applications will add $14 trillion to global economic value by 2030.

As such, an expansive 5G network will form the bedrock of IoT enhancements, like predictive maintenance on factory machines or constantly-connected smart products (fridges, washing machines). The report expects 18 billion of 29 billion connected devices in 2022 to be IoT-related. Meanwhile, global users with 5G subscriptions are expected to number 500 million by 2022.

According to the report, overcoming hurdles in infrastructure regulations and spectrum availability are key to unlocking the full economic potential of 5G. The next generation system requires much denser infrastructure than 4G – with up to 300,000 small cells required over the next four years (equal to two times the number of macro towers built in the last 30 years).

By 2022, there will be 29B connected devices globally

Accenture says that authorities will need to streamline permitting and processes, as well as revamp fee structures in order for 5G to roll out in any reasonable timeframe. In the current process, it can take up to two years for small cell applications to clear, often involving lengthy pole-by-pole assessments. If 5G approval timelines could be reduced by a year, the report says $100 billion could be added to the US economy in the next three years.

The other hurdle to timely 5G network development (and, as such, IoT viability) is the availability of spectrum. Though 5G more efficiently uses spectrum than previous iterations, its development still requires the government to make more available in order to realize 5G’s full benefits. In the US, the FCC previously opened up bandwidth for 5G in the underutilized high-band spectrum, though obviously more expansive spectrum allocations will be required in the future.