One of the most important lessons learned during the pandemic is that digital connectivity is the lifeblood of society. It can also promote our economic recovery, build resilience, and promote our ecological transformation. Joakim Reiter, Director of External and Corporate Affairs of the Vodafone Group, explained why if we want to “rebuild better” and ensure that Europe remains competitive, we need to accelerate the development of 5G.
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July 5, 2021
Partner content and... How has the
pandemic changed our relationship with online technology?
With the help of the Friends of Europe, we talked with people across Europe to understand their experience with technology during the pandemic. Many people describe connectivity as “essential” because digital technology is the only way to stay informed, stay connected, stay at work, access important healthcare and public services, and learn. It’s amazing to see how schools are transferring courses online and how small businesses are turning to provide services online. At the beginning of 2020, how many of us often use video conferencing technology?
Affected by the epidemic, many industries have installed remote monitoring systems so that personnel can remotely monitor operations. Although these technologies are available in advance, the pandemic just makes people aware of their usefulness. This situation also leaves us no choice but to try and learn effectively at work. Without digital technology, our experience would be very different, and in turn, our attitude has changed accordingly.
We have seen 5G applications have a positive impact on business performance during the pandemic. A recent Nokia study showed that companies adopting 5G technology have a net increase in productivity (+ 10%) and are the only group that can maintain or increase customer engagement. Therefore, it is not surprising that the online advantages of 5G have become more important. This trend will not be reversed, but it will in fact accelerate in the coming years.
What should be the focus of the European recovery?
The pandemic tells us that we cannot take it for granted. Issues such as achieving digital transformation and increased network capacity through the full deployment of 5G have become a top priority. But, as the Executive Vice President of the European Commission, Margrethe Vestager, recently highlighted, it is also a question of social inclusion. While it is difficult for people to accept technologies that they do not fully understand or trust, we must prioritize digital skills and education to ensure that no one is left behind, promote the transformation of small and large businesses, and support public management. so that they can make changes online.
“A recent Nokia study showed that companies adopting 5G technology at an advanced level have achieved a net increase in productivity and can maintain or increase customer engagement.”
Joakim Reiter, Head of Corporate and External Affairs, Vodafone Group
5G Investment and Deployment is the key to our recovery.
This will address the digital divide and promote the next industrial revolution by supporting new real-time equipment and services in manufacturing, energy, life sciences, and agriculture. The return on investment will be substantial.
A report we recently commissioned shows that a comprehensive digital approach can generate a digital dividend of € 1 trillion2. The fast, low-latency 5G shortens the time between operation and response, making devices, machines, and sensors more reactive, enabling two-way communication and real-time remote control. With the help of the capabilities and coverage characteristics of 5G, the private network allows the machines, tools, parts and personnel in the factory to be perfectly synchronized, increases production and promotes mass customization.
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We have seen the exciting deployment of 5G in the transportation field, and the technology in this field is changing the ability of vehicles to communicate with each other. Yes and the surrounding infrastructure. We are working with Nokia, Chordant and highway operators to develop a new cloud mobile platform to reduce congestion and foster a safer and more sustainable transportation ecosystem. 5G will also help us achieve the goals of the Green Agreement by helping the economy decarbonize, improve energy efficiency, and improve traffic safety; transform industries and provide economic stimulus.
Is the EU’s progress in 5G and digital transformation fast enough?
Europe seems to have invested heavily in this area, and the European Union prioritizes digital innovation in the Recovery and Restoration Mechanism (RRF). EU member states must now devote at least 20% of their total budget of 672.5 billion euros to the promotion of digitalization. RRF’s digital priorities are correct: connectivity; digital-related R&D investment; human capital; e-government; enterprise digitalization; advanced technology deployment; and greening the digital domain. However, RRF alone cannot achieve the 2030 digital decade goal set by the committee.
“We must accelerate the deployment of ultra-high-capacity networks, because without these innovations, industrial transformation will take place elsewhere, and we will no longer compete with the United States and China.”
Joakim Reiter, Vodafone Group
Vodafone released a relatively resurgent survey A plan submitted by 20 EU member states in response to the EU’s 2030 Digital Decade3. This shows that despite the promise of new funds, it is not enough. Our report “Achieving the Digital Decade: Contribution to Recovery and Recovery Plans” found that the joint investment of Member States’ plans and the EU’s restoration of connectivity plan accounted for only 46% of the estimated 210 billion euros of investment required by the entire EU to meet demand. Our goal for 2025.
Unfortunately, among the four key pillars of the digital compass, digital infrastructure has received the least allocation of funds. Citizens, businesses, and governments cannot benefit from digitalization if they do not have access to a secure and high-quality Internet. This is a fact: the sooner we resolve this gap, the better. We must accelerate the deployment of ultra-large-capacity networks, because without these innovations, industrial transformation will occur elsewhere, and we will no longer remain competitive with the United States.