The technological revolution will be a significant opportunity for Scotland over the coming years. The rollout of 5G is the next wave and will potentially see huge social, economic and environmental benefits to the whole country.
While the UK's mobile network operators are already investing large sums in rolling out 5G, we must act collectively to ensure that all of Scotland - including rural areas - benefits from this revolution. The prize is a boost to our nation's fortunes, creating better, healthier and happier lives for everyone.
The Scottish Government's aspiration is for Scotland to be at the forefront of this revolution and, ultimately, to establish the whole country as a leading 5G digital nation.
5G is so much more than an upgrade of previous generations of mobile connectivity. It will enable new or enhanced connectivity in the fields of transport, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and remote monitoring - the opportunities are endless. This enhanced connectivity will make us more productive and efficient as a country and play a vital role in the transition to a zero-carbon economy and tackling the climate emergency, e.g. through reduced emissions.
5G will be transformational for businesses, public services and for individual citizens. It is suggested that enhanced 5G capability could reduce business start-up costs, stimulate exports and increase the use of cost-reducing technologies such as cloud computing. It could provide easier access to healthcare, education and online shopping for people, wherever they live in the country.
It is estimated that by enhancing 5G capability, Scotland has the potential to add £17 billion to GDP by 2035, create 160,000 new jobs and increase productivity by £1,600 per worker. 5G could play a part in creating 3,100 new businesses and a £3.3 billion growth in export volumes.
Significantly, 5G also has the potential to help sustain remote and rural areas, allowing all of Scotland's citizens and communities to embrace the technology and reap its benefits. To make this happen, the Scottish Government is working with a range of organisations and interested parties to ensure the swift national deployment of 5G.
However, telecommunications in the UK is reserved to the UK Government and mobile network rollout is commercially led. We continue to press the UK Government to give us the powers and resources which would allow us to reap the significant benefits that we could see from enhanced 5G provision in Scotland. We cannot wait any longer, which is why we are driving ahead and setting out what action we, with the powers and resources we do have, can take to enhance digital connectivity. The Scottish Government is determined that Scotland will not be left behind. Indeed, we will continue to work with industry, the regulator and others in the public sector to make sure we are at the forefront of this revolution.
In this strategy we set out our commitment and steps to embracing the possibilities of 5G and ensuring that Scotland is able to seize the prize and become a 5G leader and a forward-looking digital nation.
Paul Wheelhouse MSP
Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands