The roll-out of 5G network technology will boost the global economy by €1.1trn in the next decade and bring major benefits to key sectors of the Irish economy, according to a new report by PWC.
The technology, which promises transmission speeds up to 100 times faster than 4G networks and with 1,000 times the capacity, is predicted to transform sectors as diverse as health care, financial services, energy and waste management.
Network coverage expansion is expected to be faster in Ireland than the roll-out of 4G in 2013 due to market demand and equipment availability, PWC said. The firm estimated 40pc of the global population would have 5G access by 2025, with a similar proportion capable of connecting in Ireland by that time.
PWC said businesses should be making investment plans now to take advantage of opportunities presented by 5G.
"More than a faster version of mobile connectivity on 4G, 5G’s speed, reliability, reduced energy usage and massive connectivity will be transformative for businesses and wider society, enabling seamless access to super-fast broadband," said Amy Ball, a partner with PWC Ireland Advisory Consulting.
"Used in combination with investments in artificial intelligence and the internet of things, 5G can be used to enable business and society to realise the full benefits of emerging technology advances. It will open up new opportunities for growth and change as organisations rethink and reconfigure the way they operate in the post-pandemic world."
A major impact will come due to increased numbers of staff working remotely, where 5G capability could prove a major advantage for organisations. Remote workers with 5G handsets could bypass patchy and unreliable fixed-line broadband networks that have become congested due to unprecedented demands of working from home and remote education.
"The proliferation of new devices with 5G connectivity during the pandemic has a knock-on effect for workers and service providers," said Neil Redmond of PWC.
"For example, the new normal of working from home may see more remote workers exceed download allowances. Operators may have to adjust their service offerings to cater for users requiring higher monthly download limits than currently available."