A report by the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) predicts that Scotland's economic output could increase by £17 billion by 2035 if we seize the opportunities presented by 4G and 5G, with annual tax revenues increasing by £5.7 billion as a result of 3,000 new businesses employing 160,000 people.
Produced by accountancy firm Deloitte, Scotland's Digital Potential with Enhanced 4G and 5G Capability, also suggests that non-stop connectivity delivered through 5G networks has the potential to improve facilities from healthcare, to education and transport. The technology rollout could also reduce energy consumption and costs through smart, integrated energy grids.
As Scotland has a relatively low population density and around 330,000 residents living in remote rural areas, the potential benefits from remote service delivery may be particularly significant. The SNP Government-funded Reaching 100 programme will be key to this, as it aims to deliver fibre broadband coverage to 100% of premises in Scotland.
Derek Graham, programme director of SFT’s digital infrastructure team, said:
“The Deloitte report highlights the substantial benefits that Scotland could realise by fully embracing the potential opportunities that improved digital connectivity and future 5G technologies can offer. Having access to seamless digital connectivity is therefore paramount to securing inward investment where extensive cross-sector collaboration will be required to facilitate development, demonstration and commercialisation to encourage the private sector to invest further in Scotland."
This report arrived as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP unveiled plans that put Scotland at the forefront of the 5G technological revolution. Forging our Digital Future with 5G, sets out how the SNP Government will work with industry, the regulator and other public sector bodies to make sure that all of Scotland benefits from the technology.
The First Minister said:
“Our 5G plan sets out the actions we believe are needed to ensure all Scotland shares in the vast potential growth on offer. Our aspiration is to position Scotland as a 5G leader and a forward-looking digital nation, offering rich potential to enhance Scotland’s global competitiveness, achieve economic growth and drive innovation across our public and private sectors."
Professor Chris Pearce, Dean of Research, College of Science & Engineering, University of Glasgow added:
“5G is a next-generation network technology which is faster, has the potential to revolutionise digital communications and create real social impact in Scotland, from public health to the environment.
“Our researchers are developing 5G technologies to facilitate remote health monitoring without invasive measurements or the need for wearable sensors. They are also working to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions of cellular networks and are developing low-cost pop-up networks. These can be deployed quickly and efficiently during large sporting events or disaster scenarios to bring temporary connectivity to the area, strengthening Scotland’s resilience capacity."
Kenneth Gibson MSP commented:
“There are huge potential gains for all areas of Scottish life through embracing 5G. For example, the SNP Government will use this as catalyst for further public sector transformation, enabling high quality, user-focused and efficient services.”