Telecommunications are the backbone of the digital revolution. Since the advent of the Internet, telecommunications companies have been building and maintaining the networks that carry the data. However, as those networks have grown and become faster and more diverse, they have also become enablers of services that facilitate digital transformation. To adjust to this new paradigm, telecommunication companies had to reposition themselves as architects of growth and create platforms that allow industries to leverage cloud infrastructure, streaming services, and artificial intelligence (AI)-powered tools to drive economic growth. This article considers those instances where telecommunications (that include cabling, wireless, transmission, radio frequency, optical communications media and internet protocol networks) play a vital role in growing economies.

The need for telecommunications infrastructure will increase more than ever in the coming years, so it’s essential to understand the importance of this industry. Telecommunications can drive economic growth in numerous ways such as by lowering costs for information, search, and transactions, while improving the efficiency of markets for goods, services, labour, and capital. Mobile communications also complement existing production inputs which result in rapid, cost-effective, and convenient production processes. These improvements, in turn, improve labour, capital and overall productivity.

  1. Healthcare: Achieving better and faster results

The Covid-19 pandemic saw a rise in telemedicine. This is, however, only one area in which telecommunications, specifically 5G, can facilitate cost savings and improve healthcare outcomes. For example, 5G has the potential to improve both the efficiency and productivity of hospitals using 5G-enabled medical devices. Furthermore, combining AI with 5G, boosted with recent advances in robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT), will enable a connected healthcare ecosystem that is aligned with what is referred to as ‘4P medicine’ – predictive, preventative, participatory and personalised.

  1. Improved logistics and transportation

Telecommunications is set to enhance the efficacy of the transportation system through intelligent transport systems (ITS). ITS comprise a broad range of wireless and traditional communications-based information and electronic technologies. Examples of ITS include journey planners and automated driving in transport which aim to make mobility safer, more effective and more sustainable. When combined with transportation systems’ infrastructure and within vehicles themselves, telecommunication technologies can reduce congestion, enhance safety, and boost productivity.

  1. Improved (smart) manufacturing

Improved connectivity can ensure as much as 30% potential overall productivity gains while improving assembly efficiency by approximately 50%. 5G technology specifically will enhance flexibility and responsiveness on the factory floors. For example, autonomous robots and vehicles can use laser-based perception and AI to operate in facilities without the need for fixed infrastructure. Not only will this be safer and more efficient, but they will also be able to integrate with other telecommunications technology, software and services as an integrated inventory and robotics platform. It is estimated that the net global contribution to GDP by 2030 will amount US$130 billion.

The sectors mentioned above all rely on telecommunications infrastructure to function and, in turn, these sectors are major drivers of global economic growth.