According to new research, the rollout of 4G superfast mobile boradband in the UK will add £75bn to the economy by 2020 and will safeguard and/or create 125,000 jobs.
Independent research released today by Capital Economics states that the introduction of fourth generation mobile networks has the potential to "unlock £5.5 billion of direct private investment into the UK economy by 2015" and provide access to mobile superfast broadband to at least 10 million people who will be unable to get fixed line broadband of a similar speed.
The report suggests that if a viable industry-wide 4G network rolls out by 2013, it would add 0.5 percent (equivalent to £75bn today) to the UK Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by the end of the decade. It would also ensure the safeguarding or creation of 125,000 jobs across the UK.
The research was commissioned by Everything Everywhere, the partnership between T-Mobile and Orange UK, after the group earlier this year revealed plans to roll out the UK's first 4G LTE network. Everything Everywhere submitted a proposal to Ofcom at the end of February to allow it to roll out a 4G network by the end of 2012. The proposal was based on re-engineering its current allocation of the 1800MHz spectrum which is used for the companies' 3G networks, to be used for a 4G network based on the Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology.
The report's author, Mark Pragnell of Capital Economics said: "The introduction of 4G mobile broadband will create substantial long-term benefits for the economy and consumers, ultimately boosting UK GDP by as much as half a percentage point. The near-term £5.5bn private industry investment we project is substantial - and opportune for the wider economy given the recent investment slump."
Olaf Swantee, CEO of Everything Everywhere, said: "This research highlights the significant economic and social benefits that 4G will bring to the UK - already enjoyed in over 30 countries around the world."
Ofcom began a consultation period in relation to the proposal at the end of February and last month announced it was extending the consultation period saying it had "decided to extend this period following requests from stakeholders for more time to respond."
While no specific stakeholders were named, it is likely that both Vodafone and O2, the two other major mobile networks in the UK, have made submissions, considering this plan could effectively give Everything Everywhere a monopoly on 4G in the UK for over a year.
The UK is lagging behind many other developed countries like Japan, the US, Germany and Spain in building a working 4G network. While there are a number of trials taking place around the country, in places like Cornwall and London, an auction to purchase the 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrums which have been set aside for 4G networks in the UK has been delayed on a number of occasions and probably won't take place until late this year or early 2013.
This means that UK customers won't have access to superfast mobile broadband on a widespread basis until late 2013 or probably early 2014 at the earliest. 4G LTE mobile broadband would offer smartphone users faster uploads and downloads and the ability to watch TV on their phone or tablet.
We've been in touch with Ofcom regarding this and a spokesperson told us the consultation period will end on 8 May a final decision will be made once the responses have been considered. "We aim to publish a final statement on this shortly afterwards, in the summer," the spokesperson said.
Everything Everywhere has also launched a new website, www.4Gbritain.org, which gives people more details on exactly how 4G works and what is could mean for the UK.