Kit vendor Ericsson has put out a study claiming the GDPs of 15 emerging markets in Asia, Africa and Latin America could improve if they invested more in 5G infrastructure.

The study was carried out by Analysys Mason with the title Future Value of Mobile in Emerging Markets, and it suggested some potential economic, consumer and environmental benefits of 5G connectivity in 15 emerging markets, which could apparently enjoy a GDP growth between 0.3% and 0.46% through 2035.

The report in a nutshell argues that more investment in 5G networks in 15 countries it describes as emerging markets – Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, Thailand and Turkey – would generally help out the economies there.

More specifically expanded mid-band 5G coverage is highlighted as the key success factor – which they say has the potential to deliver about 80% of the economic benefits, while 5G enabled industry and ‘Smart Rural clusters’ account for 85-90% of the total economic benefits it estimates. The report states that enhanced rural 5G coverage could deliver up to 1.8% uplift in long-term GDP from agriculture.

When it comes to the cash, ‘baseline 5G deployment’ costs are estimated between $3-8 billion per country, with an additional 20-35% investment required to extend coverage and get the GDP benefits it points to. We’re told ‘most countries are expected to generate overall economic benefits (GDP) three-to-seven times higher than the incremental cost of extending coverage… results suggest 5G mobile broadband can generate consumer surplus between U$1-10 billion per country, with coverage extension giving 20-30% extra consumer surplus.’

”This Analysys Mason Future Value of Mobile in Emerging Markets report provides a detailed breakdown, based on comprehensive research into realistic and achievable scenarios in each of the 15 countries, of the potential economic, social, environmental and national benefits of 5G in these markets,” said Andrew Lloyd, Head of Government and Policy Advocacy at Ericsson. “With the backing of governments, regulators and policy makers, each of these 15 countries, and their citizens, stand to benefit significantly from 5G connectivity. In addition to economic benefits, 5G can also reduce climate impact, increase social inclusion, wellbeing and tackle the digital divide in areas where fixed infrastructure availability is poor.”

Janette Stewart, Partner at Analysys Mason added: ”The study highlights the benefits from having the right spectrum available for 5G deployment, both for geographic coverage, for which the low-bands are very suitable, and in the 3.5GHz band where most of the high-capacity 5G deployments in other markets are already taking place.”

It seems logical enough to state that developing infrastructure of any kind will have some form of economic benefit to the country it occurs within – you certainly wouldn’t expect it tolower GDP. Leaving aside the rather obvious bias all firms have when they are making a point that the thing the world really needs is exactly what they’re selling – a potential 0.3% uptick in GDP doesn’t actually sound like the strongest sales pitch in the world. But to be fair, any percentage point represents significant wedge when it comes to national GDPs.

But whether better 5G coverage is what places like Pakistan and Nigeria most need and should be pouring money into improving is another question, especially since many countries that do have well developed consumer 5G networks set up are still waiting for them to provide any significantly novel uses.

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