29th June 2021 – Analysis from PwC’s recent report “The global economic impact of 5G. Powering your tomorrow” predicts that 5G applications will contribute US$1.3 trillion to global GDP by 2030, including US$220 billion in China. The five sectors assessed to be influenced most by the technology are, healthcare, smart utilities, consumer and media, industrial manufacturing, and financial services.
Currently, the economic impact of 5G is limited as telecommunications companies focus efficiency gains on infrastructure building and technological expansion. However, as 5G applications become increasingly common, such investments will have a greater positive impact on the global economy. North America will likely be the biggest beneficiary of 5G in terms of GDP growth, followed by Asia, Oceania, and the EMEA region.
In China, as the nation’s “new infrastructure” policies continue to gather momentum, a number of local governments have published action plans that include 5G development as a “mandatory focus”. As such, 5G technology is advancing and becoming assimilated into every aspect of business and daily life, providing crucial support for digital government, smart cities, and IIoT, while generating enormous value for the economy and society. By 2030, the 5G sector will contribute an estimated US$220 billion to China’s economy, representing the second largest national growth after the US.
Wilson Chow, PwC Global TMT Industry Leader noted: “Currently, the construction of China’s 5G network is in its middle phase, with the commercial adoption of 5G expected to drive investments and consumer spending. In the long run, 5G will usher in the next chapter of the digital economy, where new data and communications infrastructure will not only stimulate consumption of data, but also become the main conduit for information exchange. Smart connections and cloud-and-network integration will be essential to every aspect of industrial production and smart appliances. This, in turn, will unleash the multiplying effect of digitisation on economic growth.”
The healthcare sector will likely be the biggest contributor to 5G’s economic impact worldwide. According to PwC’s predictive modeling, 5G in healthcare will deliver GDP growth of US$530 billion globally with US$44 billion in China by 2030. Remote diagnostics, telesurgery and emergency rescue are areas in which 5G will be utilised most extensively in China’s healthcare system. Globally, remote equipment control (telerobotic ultrasound and surgery) as well as object and environment recognition (surgery and patient’s condition recognition) are projected to be among the main applications using 5G in the field.
There is also significant potential for 5G adoption in other industries, as the technology continues to empower more innovative solutions and uses. Notable instances include:
- 5G smart utilities management is on course to contribute US$330 billion to global GDP, and US$86 billion to GDP in China. In recent years, a range of government agencies in China have begun the digitisation process of their administrative processes and utilities systems, to facilitate the digital transformation in the public sector. Out of all major countries, China is expected to become the frontrunner in 5G-driven growth of smart utilities management.
- 5G consumer & media are predicted to contribute US$254 billion to global GDP, and US$63 billion to China’s. Ultra-HD videos represent the area with the biggest application for 5G in the media industry. For Chinese consumers, it enables a wider range of usage scenarios including, smart homes, facial recognition payments, data consolidation and live VR marketing.
- 5G industrial manufacturing is set to contribute US$134 billion to global GDP, and US$22 billion to China’s. China is expected to be the leading nation for 5G-driven growth in industrial production. Intelligent manufacturing, remote control and smart industrial parks are the three areas in which 5G will be used most extensively.
- 5G financial services are projected to contribute US$85 billion to global GDP, and US$5 billion to China’s. Forecasts indicate 5G will tighten integration of technologies such as IoT, VR, AI and big data for the financial services industry in China, providing solutions to existing pain points in banking, securities, insurance, property leasing, investment and other significant subsectors.
Dora Song, PwC Mainland China Telecommunications Leader said: “5G is creating new growth with massive potential in areas such as personal consumption, entrepreneurship, the public sector and the global economy. As the pandemic accelerates digitisation in most industries, 5G will be a major catalyst for ongoing expansion to capture and enhance consumer interactions. In the next decade, the technology will become a foundation for our social infrastructure and a vital platform for driving new business models, technological development, and competition within industries with potential to bring significant growth to China’s economy.”
Regional showcasing of 5G uses will also become more prevalent. As one of China’s most open and vibrant economic regions, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area is of major strategic importance in the national development plan. During the Two Sessions this year, the Greater Bay Area and the development of “new infrastructure” were again at the top of the agenda and have been included as focal areas in the 14th Five-Year Plan. As a stimulus for innovative development, the creation of new infrastructure will speed up the commercial application of 5G in the Greater Bay Area.
Notably, Shenzhen is at the forefront of the development of smart hospitals in the region. By utilising 5G and “Internet + IoT”, public hospitals and private sector facilities have worked together to create innovative digital solutions that cover the whole process of diagnosis and treatment, to improve efficiency and quality of hospital services. Concurrently, Guangzhou has released a three-year action plan with emphasis on entrenching 5G applications for urban traffic systems, to accelerate progress in becoming a smart city. Guangzhou, Shenzhen and several other cities have also introduced their own “new infrastructure” policies, to encourage adoption of application scenarios related to IIoT. Further examples are seen in Foshan and Dongguan, where IIoT is a primary focus for their respective development plans as manufacturing cities.
Loretta Fong, PwC Hong Kong Telecommunications Leader stated: “As the mobile communication technology of the new generation, 5G will create unprecedented value for industries and society. Governments and corporate leaders should place greater strategic emphasis on 5G in their plans for the next decade. In doing so, it is prudent to consider the current phase of 5G development and the competitive advantages 5G brings across fields. It will also be worth assessing whether their institution or company is able to meet the necessary requirements to break new ground and create more value in the deployment of 5G technology.”