5G could generate trillions in benefits in the next decade. So why aren’t companies moving faster with it?

In the next ten years, a whopping extra $8 trillion could be added to global GDP thanks to 5G-enabled industries, according to predictions from Nokia.

Research sponsored by the Finnish 5G equipment provider suggests that 5G will underpin the age of IoT, AI, smart cities and autonomous cars, and have a direct positive impact on business performance.

The findings seem at odds with the current context: while the Covid-19 pandemic continues to cripple small and large companies alike, some analysts predict that businesses will focus on near-term survival, and that investments in technologies that are not directly linked to recovery will take a backseat. It’s hard to get excited by 5G when you don’t even get to leave your house.

But Nokia’s research found that, instead of shying away from IT investments, the health crisis has prompted companies to double down on digital transformation programs. The report estimates, therefore, that despite the challenges caused by the pandemic, the next five years will see 71% of companies investing in 5G.

This will be especially the case among industries that have historically lacked the digital tools that the pandemic has now made key to business continuity. Sectors such as manufacturing, utilities and healthcare, which have lagged behind in digitization, will invest extensively in new technologies to build up resilience. 

Faster connectivity has a proven role to play in the process. Nokia’s report claimed that companies currently implementing and expanding 5G-enabled technologies were the only ones to experience productivity boosts throughout the pandemic, as well as the only ones that were able to maintain or increase customer engagement. 

Over a third (37%) of those businesses achieved rapid growth last year, as opposed to only 5% of businesses that are not yet contemplating 5G deployments.

Gabriela Styf Sjöman, chief strategy officer at Nokia, said: