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The global economic impact of 5G: China report

Powering your tomorrow

  • US$220bn

    Projected economic impact of 5G to China’s GDP by 2030

  • US$86bn

    added to the Chinese economy by 5G applications in smart utilities management by 2030

  • US$63bn

    added to the Chinese economy by 5G applications in consumer and media applications by 2030

Currently, the construction of China’s 5G network is in its medium development phase, with the commercial adoption of 5G expected to drive investments and consumer spending. In the long run, 5G will usher in the next chapter of the digital economy, where new data and communications infrastructure will not only stimulate consumption of data, but also become the main conduit for information exchange. Smart connections and cloud-and-network integration will be essential to every aspect of industrial production and smart appliances. This, in turn, will unleash the multiplying effect of digitisation on economic growth.

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5G’s impact by industries

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We predict that 5G applications will contribute US$1.3 tn to global GDP by 2030, including US$220 bn in China. The five sectors assessed to be influenced most by the technology are, healthcare, smart utilities, consumer & media, industrial manufacturing, and financial services.

Push the ICT industry onto a new track of growth

- 5G commercialisation drives operators to enter a new cycle of investment. The capital expenditure on 5G-related networks of the three major operators in Mainland China reached 170 billion yuan in 2020 and is expected to exceed 170 billion yuan in 2021, accounting for more than 54% of the total capital expenditure;
- 5G drives continuous innovation in new infrastructure. Telecom operators, Internet giants, ICT equipment providers and third-party data centre providers are increasing their investment in cloud computing, data centre and artificial intelligence;
- Drive the transformation and upgrade of information consumption. In 2020, the performance of China’s three major telecom operators maintained stability with a growth, and the mobile communication business ARPU turned from decline to increase. 5G mobile terminals were shipped on a large scale.

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Create new space for innovative economic and social development

- Provide a new way for the transformation of production mode in other industries. With the evolution of integration application, the economic value of 5G enabling thousands of industries is gradually reflected, such as helping traditional industries realise low-cost remote control;
- Provide new possibilities for the transformation of social governance and public service mode, and integrate 5G mass connectivity with transportation, healthcare, education, entertainment and other industries to stimulate upgraded consumption and improve the living experience of cities and residents.

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A new era of smart utilities

5G smart utilities management is on course to contribute US$330 billion to global GDP, and US$86 billion to GDP in China. In recent years, a range of government agencies in China have begun the digitisation process of their administrative processes and utilities systems, to facilitate the digital transformation in the public sector. Out of all major countries, China is expected to become the frontrunner in 5G-driven growth of smart utilities management.

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5G will reconfigure how enterprise operates

In addition to being a powerful technology in its own right, 5G can bring together and turbocharge other emerging technologies, including AI, XR, edge computing and the IoT. All of these technologies work better and contribute more value when applied in combination with 5G, helping enterprises create a ‘technology flywheel’—the pent-up power of which will be all the greater in the wake of the pandemic. On the telecoms side, this reconfiguration will see companies reinvent their business support systems and operational support systems to become more flexible, agile and connected to support 5G-based services. And all businesses will need to radically upskill their workforce for a 5G-enabled world.

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Insights from senior Telecom executives

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0:05:43

Interview with Wang Aibao, Senior Telecom Executive

Aibao shares his views on how 5G will enable the digital development of China’s economy and the potential network security issues.

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0:05:14

Interview with Sean Lee, Director & Chief Executive Officer of China Mobile Hong Kong

Sean talks about the commercial applications of 5G in Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area, and how 5G will boost Hong Kong’s innovation and competitiveness.

Contact us

Wilson Chow

Wilson Chow

Global Technology, Media and Telecommunications Industry Leader, PwC China

Tel: +[86] (755) 8261 8886

Jianbin Gao

Jianbin Gao

Mainland China TMT Leader, PwC China

Tel: +[86] (21) 2323 3362

Dora Song

Dora Song

Partner, PwC China

Tel: +[86] (10) 6533 2216

Loretta Fong

Loretta Fong

Partner, PwC Hong Kong

Tel: +[852] 2289 1314

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