Operator expects next-gen mobile tech to give £10 billion boost to productivity.

The direct economic benefits of 5G to the U.K. economy will overtake those delivered by fibre-based fixed broadband by 2026, claimed O2 this week.

According to the results of a study published by the operator on Thursday, 5G will deliver a £7 billion (€8.18 billion) boost to businesses, while a ripple effect through the supply chain will indirectly help the nation’s productivity to the tune of £3 billion per year.

By 2026 – just six years after the first 5G networks are expected to enter commercial service – the economic benefits of the technology will overtake those of fibre broadband, O2 said.

"Mobile is the invisible infrastructure that can drive the economy of post-Brexit Britain," declared O2 UK chief Mark Evans. "The future of 5G promises a much quicker return on investment than fibre broadband, and a range of unprecedented benefits: from telecare health applications to smarter cities to more seamless public services."

Last week, telco regulator Ofcom updated its plans for allocating 5G spectrum. The three initial frequency bands it is proposing are the 700 MHz, 3.4 GHz-3.8 GHz, and 25 GHz bands.

Later this year, Ofcom is also due to launch its spectrum auction for 190 MHz of frequencies in the 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz bands. The watchdog has proposed that BT and its EE arm – which together hold 45% of the U.K.’s immediately-usable mobile spectrum – be prevented from bidding for 2.3-GHz spectrum.

O2 said on Thursday that these measures don’t go far enough to foster a fully competitive market, and has called for Vodafone to be restricted to acquiring no more than half of the available 2.3-GHz spectrum.

"We need a sophisticated spectrum auction that encourages the quickest and fairest deployment of mobile spectrum, with a regulatory environment that delivers a level playing field for businesses and supports a competitive market for customers," Evans said.