Western Australian businesses are the nation’s luddites when it comes to a willingness to embrace 5G mobile technology and infrastructure.
Just 58 per cent agree 5G will help make Australia more competitive on the international market (compared to a 71 per cent national average), while less than half thought 5G would help accelerate growth of their business (45 per cent compared to a 62 per cent national average).
That’s according to a new report by the peak body for the mobile telecommunications industry and Deloitte Access Economics, which has tipped 5G to boost gross domestic product by $67 billion by 2030.
And if Australia is able to maintain its current global leadership in terms of the adoption rate of 5G devices — the country is currently ranked third in 5G connected devices per capita but is forecast to fall to ninth — the productivity benefit would be 40 per cent or $27b larger.
Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association chief executive Louise Hyland said 5G presented significant opportunities for the mining and agricultural sectors in particular in WA.
Along with delivering faster speeds and better reliability, 5G also promises to enable a range of technologies such as drones, Internet of Things, edge computing, autonomous vehicles, and virtual reality.
“However . . . relative to the rest of Australia, WA businesses tend to be less likely than the national average to understand the value of 5G, as evidenced by even lower levels of business readiness for the adoption of 5G technology than exists nationally.”
There were 3868 5G sites and 23,481 4G sites in Australia at the end of last year, according to AMTA’s 5G Unleashed Report. It said Western Australia had a slightly lower share of 5G sites relative to its share of 4G sites (8 per cent and 11 per cent respectively), while Victoria had a slightly higher share of 5G sites relative to 4G (27 per cent compared to 24 per cent).
Ms Hyland said that while a slightly lower share of 5G sites suggested more can be done in WA in relation to mobile infrastructure, “the biggest priority is getting businesses to embrace the infrastructure that is already available”.
But there are challenges in installing 5G in the State, including inconsistency of development approval processes for new telecommunications infrastructure across councils and the need for further reforms from the State Government, Ms Hyland said.
The biggest barriers to the adoption of 5G technology cited by Australian businesses in the report were that it was not a priority, too expensive and not relevant to their operations.