Asked how the figure had been arrived at, John O'Mahony, lead author of the report and a partner at Deloitte, said the company had used an economic model of how six different mega-trends, including technology, contributed to productivity and economic growth over time.
In February, a survey of chief technology officers, who are directly involved with 5G projects at 46 telcos around the globe, indicated that most were still unsure about the strength for the 5G business case, according to the management consulting firm McKinsey.
But O'Mahony said: "We have a database with hundreds of data points across 37 countries across 13 years. We have an index of digital technology comprised of fixed broadband, mobile and Internet use measures.
"The economy will be $65 billion larger than otherwise in 2023 because of mobile technologies overall (including 3G and 4G and 5G). This has accumulated over two decades; and is not simply growth from 2018 to 2023. Nevertheless, it means that mobile will be fuelling one of the biggest drivers of rising living over coming years.”
The McKinsey survey said survey participants had opined that 2019 would be mostly spent on preparation and planning for the new technology, with 61% of the operators saying they expected peak rollout between 2020 and 2022.
The Deloitte-AMTA survey painted a much rosier picture than what has been predicted by a number of analyst firms. For example, the company GlobalData observed last year that the last few years had seen significant investment in 5G, both by the telecoms sector and government agencies, but added that articulating exactly what 5G would offer the consumer, beyond simply increased download speeds, remained a struggle.
Deloitte and AMTA said the mobile sector was a significant contributor to the Australian economy, supporting nearly $23 billion of Australia’s GDP.
"With the 5G mobile network set to launch this year, the report forecasts that the broader economic benefits of mobile will contribute more than the entire contribution of the agricultural industry – equivalent to $2,500 value added for every Australian," the two organisations claimed.
Asked what businesses would be driven by 5G — after it was pointed out that smartphone purchases alone could not bring about as hefty a rise in GDP as claimed in the survey — O'Mahony said: "That’s right. Our report finds that while the mobile telecommunications sectors is an important contributor in its own right to GDP and jobs, it’s the use of these technologies in other sectors — and the lift in productivity from them — that is the most important way mobile contributes to growth.
"Lots of business activities will incorporate 5G technologies in coming years, but I can most easily see applications in traditional industries — such as utilities, mining, and transport — where embedding tech in infrastructure, vehicles, supply chain etc can bring real efficiency and reliability benefits.”
Given that the first iteration of 5G — which uses the 4G core and the 5G radio access network — is being used by telcos who have jumped onto the bandwagon early, O'Mahony was asked whether networks would even be upgraded to the final specs — expected to be finalised by the end of 2019 by 3GPP and the ITU — by the end of 2023, date by which Deloitte and AMTA see such dramatic growth taking place.
He did not address the question directly, saying instead: "5G will be an important part of where things go from here, but the productivity benefit estimate for 2023 is not 5G alone. Compared with our paper in late 2017, I’ve been surprised by the pace of 5G activity. Mobile telco is a highly competitive and innovative sector, and that’s driving a lot of investment.”
AMTA chief executive Chris Althaus said in a statement accompanying the survey data: “The mobile industry is an enabler of economic growth with the industry itself making a significant contribution to GDP and employment. But the full benefits are much broader as it provides new pathways for businesses to create value, supports productivity and even helps people join the labour force.
“When it comes to the rollout of 5G, Australia is a leader. However, we need the government to play a key role to support the deployment of infrastructure to enable an effective 5G future that benefits Australian business and society while keeping us a global frontrunner.”