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Australia's 5G edge at risk over slow business adoption
Mon, 4th Mar 2024

Despite significant investment in 5G infrastructure, Australia risks losing its competitive edge due to business sector's slow adoption of the technology, according to the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA). Although the recent Kearney study ranked Australia among the top nations globally for 5G readiness, AMTA's CEO, Louise Hyland, asserts Australia's position to be at a precarious juncture due to stagnant business adoption of 5G technology.

While 5G coverage is currently available to 85% of Australians and is expected to rise to 95% by mid-2025, Hyland reveals a concerning discrepancy between the business and consumer domains. The majority of Australian businesses, about 73%, are still to fully utilise the benefits of 5G, though household adoption of the technology is proliferating at a rapid pace. This slow adoption by businesses threatens to "undermine Australia's technology leadership, and the realisation of significant economic gains", warns Hyland.

Highlighting the critical position, Hyland said, “The business case for 5G adoption is compelling. It can resolve some of the biggest challenges facing Australian businesses, including increasing productivity by enhancing decision-making, reducing downtime, and fostering a more agile and competitive business environment.”

The AMTA Pre-Federal Budget submission urgently calls on the Albanese Government to act now to accelerate the adoption of 5G technology by businesses. A National Mobile Tech Strategy, integrating various government departments and allowing contribution from the mobile telecommunications sector is needed to maximise the benefits of 5G, affirmed Hyland.

"We are calling on the Albanese Government to do more to encourage greater adoption and highlight the applications of 5G – it is so much more than just faster internet,” Hyland said, urging a bold demonstration of confidence by the government to assert that 5G technology is worth investing in.

Calling for the government to follow the example of the US, which recently invested a significant US$42 million into advanced wireless innovations, Hyland said, "A National Mobile Tech Strategy will demonstrate to the industry that these technologies are a critical part of our communications ecosystem. Without a well-defined plan, the potential of 5G will not be realised."

A comprehensive Mobile Tech Strategy should incentivise specific sectors such as healthcare, transportation, and agriculture to adopt 5G solutions and help engender a collaborative approach towards innovation between academia, industry, and government. If acted upon, the strategy could conceivably facilitate Australia's digitalisation, enhancing the workforce's skills and thereby empowering them to take advantage of the digital economy's emerging opportunities.

"AMTA and the mobile telecommunications industry look forward to engaging with the government to address the challenges of driving greater 5G adoption by businesses”, concluded Hyland.