High speed mobile internet could boost the West Midlands economy by £1.9bn, it has been revealed, after Vodafone conducted trials of the 5G technology at New Street station for the first time.

Last September it was announced that the region had successfully bid to become the UK’s first multi-city 5G testbed, with £50 million of public money available to roll out hubs across Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton .

The testbed will be aiming to show businesses how 5G could make them more productive, ease congestion and cut costs, as well as potentially being used in the operation of autonomous vehicles, and in the NHS.

 

Vodafone expects to have rolled out 5G to both Birmingham and Wolverhampton by the end of the year, with live testing now taking place at a number of sites across the city.

Speaking at the launch event on Wednesday (April 3), mayor Andy Street said that he hoped being the first testbed region for 5G in the country will give the West Midlands a competitive edge.

Helen Gyves, matron, with digital minister Margot James and mayor Andy Street

“I am delighted that Vodafone has brought 5G to sites across Birmingham; and that New Street is the UK’s first 5G-enabled rail station," he said.

"When I was managing director at John Lewis, we saw online shopping transform the retail industry.

"I believe the West Midlands 5G project will enable our businesses, hospitals, public transport and universities to explore new services and stay ahead of their competition.”

The New Street launch took place on the same day that a report by Barclays bank revealed that the introduction of 5G could increase annual UK business revenues by up to £15.7bn by 2025, with a £1.9bn boost for the West Midlands.

The report analysed a series of potential scenarios that UK businesses could face when implementing 5G. Under an ‘optimistic scenario’ with an 'accelerated' roll-out and enhanced uptake, the UK could see a £15.7bn increase in business revenue by 2025.

A slower-than-anticipated roll-out and limited use would deliver around £8.3bn of added revenue to the UK, according to the report, while the current pace of development added revenue would reach £13bn.