£205bn economic output would otherwise have been lost, according to new O2 research
One-fifth of the UK’s business has been protected by mobile connectivity since the global pandemic began, according to new research from O2 in partnership with Development Economics.
4G and 5G connectivity preserved £205 billion of business for the UK during the period of March to September by enabling many of the UK’s workers to work flexibly and remain productive at home.
Estimated through a combination of ONS data on economic output across UK sectors and employee activity monitoring, the figure represents financial protection of over 20% of a forecasted £956bn of economic output over the period – demonstrating the power of mobile connectivity in keeping Britain working through the extraordinary circumstances posed by COVID-19.
UK gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to have fallen by a record 20.4% April to June – almost twice the average impact felt by the OECD’s other 20 most developed economies. Without mobile connectivity, the research suggests many more people and businesses would have been unable to connect to their workplaces or customers, adding further pressure to the furlough scheme and on GDP and sharpening the country’s economic downturn.
As the UK’s No 1 mobile network, representing millions of people across the UK, O2 remains committed to its role in rebuilding Britain, and will maintain its investment of an average of £2million a day in its 4G network – as well as its ongoing rollout of superfast 5G connectivity.
O2 has provided boosted capacity or has extended 4G and 5G coverage to over 186,000 postcodes since the start of lockdown to make sure people wherever they are based, from villages to town centres, are able to stay in touch with their loved ones, colleagues, and customers.
Mark Evans, CEO at O2 said: “We can be under no illusion that the pandemic has challenged our nation. But we can be sure that without the great power of connectivity, things would have been exponentially worse.
“As the UK’s No1 network, we’re proud to see mobile playing an important role in supporting the UK’s businesses and the wider economy.
“Now, we need to work together, with businesses and the government, to ensure that connectivity stays at the heart of UK PLC. It’s the key to our country’s success and will unlock further growth.”
From activism to education, connectivity has kept society functioning
Crucially, connectivity has enabled more than just enable economic output, as 78% of people in the UK think mobile was important in helping them cope with the pandemic – from Birthday Zoom calls to participating in viral TikTok dances – speaking to the innate importance of communication and human connection. In lockdown O2 saw voice traffic increase by nearly 60% at peak times with call times lasting 40% longer – an increase comparable to nine years of typical growth.
Top 10 uses of mobile connectivity during lockdown:
Economic research methodology [research provided by Development Economics]: