Vodafone commits to 5G roll-out plans across rural Wales

Vodafone commits to 5G roll-out plans across rural Wales

Vodafone has reinforced its commitment to roll out its 5G Standalone (5G SA) technology to rural Wales as part of its proposed merger with Three UK. The commitment follows research showing that 50% of premises in Wales’ rural constituencies are currently 5G not-spots.

While Vodafone 5G and 5G SA are currently available in areas across Wales, including Cardiff, Newport and Swansea, the proposed merger would offer the necessary scale needed to extend 5G technology to more areas of the principality. As a result, rural Wales could benefit in:

Healthcare: Where drones using 5G SA could be used in remote or hard-to-reach areas to provide vital information for first responders and care teams during emergency situations, such as fires or traffic collisions. Vodafone’s commitment to bring 5G SA to every hospital by 2030 will also enable the ‘hospital of the future’ model to be rolled out, saving the NHS across the UK up to £1bn a year, which is equivalent to 15,400 full-time nursing posts. Meanwhile, councils could reduce spending on social care by up to 5% as a result.
Agriculture: Where farmers would be able to use new innovations like soil sensors to boost productivity, reduce environmental impact and drive growth. The research found that 5G-enabled sensors could help a farm to reduce its chemical usage by 30%, as well as improve efficiency by 15%. The same research also highlighted that tools such as 5G-connected weather stations could help farmers plan irrigation schedules, leading to an approximate 30% fall in the farm’s water consumption.
Education: Offering advances in virtual classroom applications, enabling young people living in rural or remote communities to access specialist teaching.

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Andrea Dona, Chief Network Officer, Vodafone UK, said: “We know that access to connectivity is important for everyone, but this research reveals the extent to which rural Wales is experiencing digital exclusion, showing exactly why we need to accelerate the roll out of 5G infrastructure. Through our proposed merger with Three UK, we would be able to help close the rural digital divide in Wales, helping these communities to take advantage of 5G and enjoy the same benefits it brings to their urban neighbours.”

The commitment was made as part of an event held at Principality Stadium earlier in April. During the event, Vodafone also highlighted new research with Development Economics that showed how 5G-enabled technology could add a total of £139mn per season by 2029 to the UK rugby economy – a 103% increase – at a time when many professional clubs are under financial pressure.

Highlights from the sport modelling included:

New broadcasting opportunities: VR headsets in fan zones, on a dedicated slice of 5G, will give fans an at-seat, real-time viewing experience, even when the game is sold out. This could generate up to £28mn in annual ticket sales a year by 2029.
Smoother journeys for fans: 5G will take the pressure off gameday travel, making rail passengers’ journeys to stadiums more efficient, saving 25,000 hours of travel time.
A greener game: 5G-powered innovations will help reduce rugby’s carbon footprint on match days through smarter lighting, refrigeration and ventilation for stadium food and drink vendors. This could reduce carbon emissions by around 450 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per season by 2029 – the equivalent needed to power 14.1mn household TVs viewing a full rugby match.

In addition, the proposed merger could result in 4G being delivered to more than 93% of the Welsh landmass by 2027, which would then lead to an upgrade to 5G by 2034. Previous reports by Vodafone have also shown that the potential productivity benefits of 5G to Wales could be £4.2bn by 2030, with the manufacturing Gross Value Added (GVA) reaching around £2bn across the same period.