Upgrade UK cities now or miss out on productivity savings of £6 billion a year from 5G - O2

New analysis shows how 5G will improve household finances and drive savings for councils

  • Households stand to save £450 a year on energy, council and food bills
  • Councils will regain £2.8 billion annually thanks to the introduction of smart lighting and smart refuse collection, as well as improved social care
  • The NHS is also set to benefit as 5G frees up 1.1 million GP hours by facilitating tele-health video conferencing and real-time remote health monitoring
  • Meanwhile, cities will increase their liveability through reductions in road congestion and rail delays and improvements to smart grids and healthcare – generating total productivity savings of £6 billion for the UK’s cities economy

O2’s The value of 5G for cities and communities report, launched today, identifies how 5G will ‘update the operating system’ of our cities, making them smarter and creating tangible benefits for citizens and local councils – as well as generating £6 billion in productivity savings for the UK economy.

Speaking at the launch of the report in London today, O2 CEO, Mark Evans said: “Of all the ingredients that keep our economy and society moving, arguably top of the list is mobile. Our report demonstrates how 5G technology, when it arrives, will provide unprecedented benefits for consumers, councils and cities alike. The enhanced connectivity on offer will make a real difference to people’s lives and pockets. However none of these benefits are assured. We need a high level of collaboration to press ahead with the rollout and to hardwire 5G into the fabric of our cities.”

Joining him at the event, Margot James, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries said:
“We want the UK to be a world leader in 5G, and this report highlights the huge potential we have to get ahead and reap the benefits of this exciting new technology.

“We’re already investing £25 million in new testbeds across the UK that will pave the way for our 5G future and our work with industry will be vital to help us achieve our ambitions.”

The report predicts that through 5G:

Every household will save up to £450 a year:

  • £145 will be shaved off household energy bills through the introduction of 5G-enabled smart grids that drive dynamic pricing, enable better distribution, and allow consumers to choose where they buy energy.
  • Households’ council tax bills will be £66 less, if councils pass on the saving created through smart refuse collection.
  • Households will save an additional £236 by reducing food waste thanks to the introduction of smart fridges, which will send ‘shelfies’ of their contents to consumers’ smartphones, helping them avoid buying un-needed food.
  • Car owners could save an additional £1,600 in annual fuel costs, when an extra 1.3 million electric cars are brought onto the roads by 2025 as a result of 5G-proofed energy grids that can withstand mass charging of electric cars.

Local councils will collectively share an annual £2.8 billion of efficiency savings, brought about by:

  • An £890 million reduction in social care costs for those living alone like the elderly, facilitated by 5G telehealth and monitoring. This will allow families and councils to consider alternatives to private residential care or employing carers.
  • The introduction of commercial and residential smart refuse collection, which will save councils £1.8 billion
  • Energy savings of £91 million, facilitated by the adoption of smart LED street lighting, which can be dimmed or brightened remotely as needed – like Telefónica’s projects in Malaga and Santander.

GP consultations will be streamlined, relieving pressure on the NHS:

  • Replacing just 5% of GP appointments with telehealth video conferencing will reduce physical GP visits by 4 million per year. This will be made possible thanks to the responsiveness and speed of 5G, which will also power improvements in telehealth imaging and data collection.
  • Waiting times for GP appointments will fall, as 1 million hours of GP time is freed up, creating productivity gains of £1.3 billion through less employee absence during the working day.
  • Meanwhile, 5G will enable the widespread adoption of wearable monitoring devices that will reduce 30-day NHS hospital re-admissions by 30% through aftercare monitoring, saving our cities £463 million per year and decreasing overall bed occupancy rates by 6%.

 Cities’ transport infrastructure will be improved, reducing commuting time:

  • 5G sensors on railway lines will drive improvements in predictive maintenance, reclaiming an estimated £440 million in lost productivity for the UK economy and regaining the average rail commuter 2.6 hours a year.
  • Meanwhile, 5G-enabled road management systems, able to respond seamlessly to traffic volumes, will reduce the time spent stuck in traffic by 10% for the UK’s 5.6 million vehicle commuters.
  • Commuters will also be better connected to street-level data via mobile journey planning apps linked to connected street furniture such as lamp posts and bus stops, helping them better plan journeys and avoid congested routes.

At the launch event, O2 today called for greater collaboration between industry, Government, local councils, landlords and developers to ensure Britain can reap the benefits of 5G and maintain its digital leadership.

O2 has already been taking steps to pave the way for the rollout of 5G in the UK. Just last month, it announced it will partner with AEG to launch a 5G trial at The O2. Its parent company Telefónica also launched its 5G Technological Cities project in January, which will see the Spanish cities of Segovia and Talavera de la Reina converted into 5G living laboratories over the next three years to 2020.

Derek McManus, O2’s Chief Operating Officer said: “There are more mobile connections in Britain than there are people and the demand for mobile frequency and easier access is only increasing. It’s clear from our report that 5G technology will play a vital role in ensuring that all citizens get the mobile service they deserve. But while 5G promises a range of unprecedented benefits, we should be clear that these won’t be achieved without collective investment and collaboration. That means complete alignment from operators, public service providers, local authorities, landlords and technology companies to explore new opportunities for better connectivity and denser coverage.”