A report from Vodafone claims that UK SMEs are missing out on up to £8.6 billion per year in productivity savings due to the slow roll-out of 5G SA.

Andrew Wooden

March 1, 2024

2 Min Read

As well as the £8.6 billion per year SMEs are apparently collectively leaving on the table, the UK risks slipping behind other European rivals ‘as the best place for SMEs to grow’ due to other countries such as Sweden, Netherlands, Finland, and Denmark investing in ‘reliable, superfast 5G connectivity’ at a faster rate. 

The UK is currently on course to be the 5th most attractive place in Europe for SMEs to use technology to grow, however it could leapfrog into 2nd place behind Denmark if it can accelerate the roll out of standalone 5G networks, apparently, thanks to their potential to ‘deliver vast economic savings to small businesses.’

By way of example, Vodafone says small agricultural businesses could see the average farmworker save over 3 working weeks of their time by utilising standalone 5G enabled technologies - such as soil, weather and equipment monitors. Deploying standalone 5G at speed would lead to a collective saving of over 37.7 million working hours per year across the sector - delivering £112 million in annual productivity saving, we’re told.

“UK SMEs are already some of the most advanced in Europe at integrating digital tools into their businesses and we’d hate to see them get left behind by not having adequate access to best-in class connectivity such as standalone 5G,” said a Vodafone spokesperson said. “That’s why we are excited by the further opportunities our merger with Three UK can unlock for this crucial sector of the UK economy, which would allow us to roll out a national standalone 5G network, at pace, to help SMEs across the country take advantage of leading 5G enabled technologies such as AI and IoT to help boost their efficiency, productivity and most importantly, growth.”

It all seems like very specific numbers to have arrived at in what is presumably quite a difficult thing to measure conceptually, but that’s in the nature of these sorts of reports.

Since Vodafone is one of the four UK operators on whose shoulders rolling out more 5G SA infrastructure rests, it also might seem a little odd for it to send out some dedicated comms highlighting how much firms are losing out because that process is not faster.

As with an awful lot of messaging that both Vodafone and Three have put out in the last year or so, the reason it is doing so seems to be the hammer home the idea that this is another reason its so important the two firms be allowed to merge, going by the above quote.This was also mentioned elsewhere in the release with the line: “A Europe leading position could be achieved successfully should the proposed merger between Vodafone UK and Three UK be approved, which would deliver £11 billion of investment to reach standalone 5G coverage to 99% of the UK population by 2034.”

About the Author(s)

Andrew Wooden

Andrew joins Telecoms.com on the back of an extensive career in tech journalism and content strategy.

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