UK SMEs are missing out on millions due to slow 5G upgrades and rollout

5G fibre optic
(Image credit: YouTube)

A new report from Vodafone has claimed the UK’s small and medium-sized enterprises risk missing out on substantial productivity gains due to slow upgrades and rollouts of next-generation mobile connectivity technologies.

Vodafone says that, unless the government fast-tracks the deployment of standalone 5G connectivity, up to £8.6 billion per year in productivity savings could be at stake.

Quantifying the scale of the problem, Vodafone revealed that SMEs account for 99.9% of the UK’s private sector businesses, highlighting the colossal untapped potential.

UK SMEs are being held back by slow 5G rollout

According to the study, the UK lags behind other European counterparts, such as Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden, which have invested more rapidly in reliable and fast 5G connectivity.

The report, which uses a model to measure small business growth competitiveness across 17 European countries that’s based on 5G coverage, SME adoption of 5G, and 5G speeds, places the UK in fifth place. However, with accelerated 5G deployment, Vodafone reckons the UK could be in second place, second to only Denmark.

Poland, Estonia and Czechia round up the final three in the list of 17.

The study also underlines some key sectors that are missing out because of poor 5G deployment, with construction; wholesale and retail; and professional, technical and scientific services all missing out on more than £1 billion in savings. 

Vodafone’s merger with Three – which is under the microscope from the UK’s CMA over concerns that the move could threaten competition – is hoped to result in better 5G service nationally, which Vodafone says could empower the country’s SMEs with new technologies like AI and IoT.

A Vodafone spokesperson summarized the report: “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.”

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Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!