ENHANCING 5G capability could provide a £17billion boost to Scotland’s GDP by 2035, according to a report published today.

The Deloitte study, commissioned by the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT), found that non-stop connectivity through 5G networks has the potential to boost the economy, improve access to healthcare and education, help provide multi-modal transport and reduce energy consumption and costs through integrated energy grids.

Aside from the boost to GDP, the report states that if opportunities presented by 4G and 5G are capitalised on annual tax revenues could rise by £5.7bn as a result of 3000 new businesses employing 160,000 more people.

However, such benefits will require long-term commitments by policy-makers and industry to address key challenges. The report has therefore been released to coincide with the promotion of the Scottish Government’s 5G strategy, which sets out a route map to embracing enhanced 4G and 5G capability.

Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse commented: “I welcome this publication which, in setting out the economic case for investment in next generation mobile connectivity, provides strong support for the Scottish Government’s new 5G Strategy. We are taking forward a collaborative approach across the public and private sector to ensure that Scotland fully realises its potential as a forward-looking 5G nation.

“Working closely with Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) since 2014, we have used industry insight and experience to develop our £25 million Scottish 4G Infill programme. I look forward to continuing this successful partnership with SFT, who will be an integral part of the delivery team behind our 5G Strategy, to ensure Scotland can gain the economic and social benefits of this important enabling technology that has so much potential to support innovative new services.”

The report also highlights how 5G could have profound implications for rural Scotland. With a relatively low population density and approximately 330,000 residents living in remote rural areas, the potential benefits from remote service delivery may be particularly significant in sectors such as healthcare, education and training.

This will be reliant on seamless digital connectivity, the report adds. Key to this process will be the Scottish Government-funded Reaching 100 programme, which aims to provide superfast broadband to 100% of premises by the end of 2021, and the 4G infill project, designed to deliver 4G LTE services to around 50-60 complete “notspots”.

Derek Graham, programme director of SFT’s digital infrastructure team, added: “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 the development, demonstration and commercialisation of key use cases to encourage the private sector to invest further in Scotland.

“We will therefore use our previous experience working with the Scottish Government to influence how we support further collaboration between local authorities, industry and academia to set the foundations for Scotland to be 5G ready.”